Breathtaking Precision in the Big Apple

Jan 13, 2016

On May 23rd, at the Joyce Theater in the heart of Manhattan, I saw a performance of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The night consisted of four pieces that clearly displayed the range of the company’s capabilities. The first piece was Falling Angels (1989) choreographed by Jiří Kylián as one of his six “black and white” works. In this piece, eight women dancers performed precise movements as a group, in solos, and in pairs, to a percussion score that progressed into a frenzy. The dancers were perfectly synced and there was a very interesting contrast between quirky jerks of movement, bird-like fluttering hand movements, and sensual flowing motion.

The second piece was Pacopepepluto (2011), choreographed by Hubbard Street’s own resident choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo. This piece was seven minutes of spectacular solos by three male dancers, set to Dean Martin songs of the ‘50s and ‘60s. While putting the physiques, athletic power and control of these dancers in focus, the choreography struck a fine balance between intense dance and movement tinged with humor and coy lighting.

The third piece and my overall favorite of the night was The Impossible (2014). This piece was also choreographed by Cerrudo and was a more theatrical piece that clearly demonstrated the emotional depth of the Hubbard Street dancers. When I watch a performance, I enjoy the wave of emotions and dancers Ana Lopez and Jonathan Fredrickson did just that! The piece began with music that sounded like a horror film as I sat cringing, waiting for an attack. Later, the story was portrayed in such a unique way that I was drawn into a deep relationship between the main characters/dancers. It was simply gorgeous and breathtaking, with intriguing twists and a few unexpected visual tricks that only further captivated the audience.

The final piece of the evening was Gnawa (2005) created for Hubbard Street by choreographer Nacho Duato. I was excited for this piece because I recently spent time in Morocco and had wonderful memories of the music from the streets and squares, and the nighttime drumming sessions on the edge the Sahara desert. It is as romantic, engaging, and captivating as you could imagine, and the music and dancers transported the audience to what seemed like a ritual event, complete with candlelit carved ceramics, drums, strings, and flute.

I am so excited that Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will be coming to Northrop in January as part of the 2015//16 dance season. I’m sure that they will bring their passion, athleticism, and a varied internationally influenced repertoire that will be pure inspiration.

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