A Joy-filled Celebration of 40 Years in Chicago

Dec 29, 2017

On June 8, at the Harris Theater in Chicago, I saw a performance of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The night was extra special as the dance company was celebrating their 40th anniversary. Thus, the performance consisted of eight pieces arranged in reverse chronological order that showed a wide range of choreography and styles—romantic flowing duets, Broadway-influenced pizzaz, and modern quirky movement that all left me stunned and speechless (and then shouting for more!).

What always strikes me about Hubbard Street’s dancers is the precision, passion, and athleticism that they bring to each piece in different ways. That was certainly the case in William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced. Throughout this unique piece with exceedingly complex choreography—envision 14 dancers moving behind, between, over, and under as many tables—the dancers showed their strength through a push and pull of kicks, throws, and lunges backed by an unsettlingly dark electronic score.  

Another piece, The Golden Section, choreographed by Twyla Tharp, was pure energetic sunshine. With music by David Byrne of Talking Heads and wearing bright yellow costumes straight from the early 1980s, the dancers showcased joyful kicks, jumps, and twirls with, at times, humorous movement that made me smile widely. 

The piece Georgia, choreographed by Lou Conte, is a beautifully romantic solo and duet supported by Willie Nelson’s version of “Georgia on My Mind.” Most memorable was a paired move that included a breathtaking quick drop by dancer Jacqueline Burnett, supported only on her neck by partner Jason Hortin. 

Rounding out the night with a joyous blast was Lou Conte’s The 40s, a bowtie-filled tribute fit for Broadway that made my colleagues and I want to continue the night dancing down the sidewalk as we went to grab some slices of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza. With the big band sounds of Sy Oliver’s “Opus Number One,” the dancers brought smooth and quirky together in a perfect mix to end the evening.

I am so pleased that Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will be returning to Northrop in January as part of the 2017//18 dance season. Continuing their 40th anniversary celebration, I’m sure that the Hubbard Street dancers will present a night of dance that will be unforgettable and inspiring with movement and music that all can enjoy.

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