Dance Preview: HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO (Musco Center for the Arts)

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by Tony Frankel on January 20, 2019

in Dance,Theater-Regional


As one of the world’s most important contemporary dance companies, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago encompasses a vast array of techniques and forms, as well as an understanding of abstract artistry and the emotional nuances of movement. With an exuberant, athletic, and innovative repertoire, Hubbard Street presents performances that inspire, yes, but also challenge how we look at dance. Under Glenn Edgerton’s artistic direction, this contemporary ballet company’s ensemble of 16 dancers displays unparalleled versatility and virtuosity, allowing Hubbard Street to expand its eclectic repertoire with works by American master dance-makers (their 39th Summer Series proved that) and internationally renown choreographers (such as an all-Jiří Kylián program) as well as emerging talent from under its own roof (see our review of last month’s Winter Series in Chicago).

One of the only companies in America to perform year-round, domestically as well as overseas, it’s nonetheless a rare opportunity to catch this amazing company in the Southland. I’ve seen them on their home turf three times now, so I urge you to hightail it to the gorgeous Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University, where you only have one chance — January 24, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. — to catch a diverse program by internationally recognized living artists.

As the first U.S. dance company to perform dance-making icon William Forsythe’s N.N.N.N. (2002), Hubbard Street will perform a new version of the kinetic, frenzied dance piece — still done without music — restaged by original cast members Cyril Baldy and Amancio Gonzalez. Style — here, deliberate dazzle — reigns supreme. Happily, Hubbard Street’s young dancers have the stamina, reflexes, coordination and body-brain synchronicity to pull it off.

Hubbard Street pays tribute to its two-decade relationship with the Spanish-born artist Nacho Duato. The company brings Duato’s plaintive, pastoral Jardí Tancat (1983) to Musco Center. The work features three couples and is set to Catalan music recorded by vocalist María del Mar Bonet i Verdaguer.

Hubbard Street resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s Lickety-Split (2006), his first contribution to Hubbard Street (2006). It depicts three couples in traumatic throes as their relationships percolate and evolve. No warm and fuzzy steps here, nor in the songs of Bay Area’s Devendra Banhart, but we register the thrill of the unexpected as volatile feelings find literal expression.

Closing out the program is Grace Engine (2011) by 2018 Dance Magazine Award Honoree Crystal Pite, one of my favorite choreographers on the scene.

For those visiting Chapman for the first time, give yourself extra time to park and find the theater. It’s a large campus, and you don’t want to do 50 jetés in order to get there on time!

photos by Cheryl Mann

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Musco Center for the Arts
Chapman University, 415 North Glassell in Orange
plays Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 7:30
for tickets, call 844.626.8726 or visit Musco Center

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