Hubbard Street Dance Chicago | Winter Series 2012 | Dance review
With a repertoire peppered with heavy hitters like Jirí Kylián, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin and Nacho Duato, the missing piece for Hubbard Street always felt a stone's throw away. It’s no secret; a priority for artistic director Glenn Edgerton has been to represent its targeted international Fab Five in the company’s programming: Kylián, Forsythe, Naharin, Duato and Swedish choreographer Mats Ek. With four already in tow, it was simply a matter of time before the quintett became realized. Last night at the Hubbard Street Winter Series, the troupe finally filled the void. The praise for the much-anticipated performance, though, doesn’t lie in Ek’s piece alone. Three regulars in the rep, performed with the usual substance of a Hubbard Street cast, complete the program and create a compellingly rich, mysterious ambience. It’s no accident how this program is arranged.
Aszure Barton’s Untouched opens and remains a crowd favorite. Having conceived the piece exclusively for Hubbard Street in 2010, Barton worked independently with each cast member to generate the choreography. The resulting work is perpetually dark (one of the seeming themes of the night), chic and lithe, though the dancers remain singular in their movement. They inch closer to one another and never make contact, save for two thirds of the way through. The statuesque Meredith Dincolo is gracefully demure in her opening solo, while the rest of the cast falls neatly in place, painting a lush portrait in the smoky atmosphere. There’s lots of subtlety, and yet the most eye-catching (call me crazy) are the later walking patterns and the repetitive fluttering of the hands.
Alejandro Cerrudo’s Blanco (2010) follows the first intermission and feels more and more like one of the resident choreographer’s most underrated works. A delicate balancing act of minute gestures takes Laura O’Malley, Dincolo, Jessica Tong, and Kellie Epperheimer to (again) dark places, using slow extensions and supple floor work. Add a dash of eeriness, thanks to the pulsing arrangement of Felix Mendelssohn and Charles-Valentin Alkan. In Pacopepepluto (2011), Cerrudo’s second piece in the program, three male solos from Johnny McMillan, David Schultz and Pablo Piantino—set to music from Dean Martin and Joe Scalissi—show Cerrudo’s choreographic versatility. The men, nearly nude, are manic to a degree, with a healthy power in their jumps and leaps. It’s the most lighthearted and humorous piece in the program. Cerrudo and lighting designer Matt Miller’s decision to keep the piece dimly lit makes for a nice contrast, and stays within the dark realm.
The second intermission builds anticipation for the night’s closer—Ek’s Casi-Casa. Quinn Wharton begins in a type of lounge chair, asleep in front of the flash of a television. He lifts both legs, nearly folding himself in half before slipping and sliding on the chair. The 40-minute work—a composite of two other Ek pieces—unfurls a sequence of events using 11 dancers to render something rather organic in style and story. It’s still as gritty and bones-bare as any dance you’ll ever see. Psychologically, the world spins inside the minimal set. A light scattering of “ordinary” things (a door, a chair an oven) suggests a domestic arena where central, haphazard occurrences take place. As much as any dancer, the setting is a character, a place for caustic volatility and casual ease. At the end, the curtain closes, but the story never concludes (you’ll know when you see it). For all intents and purposes, Casi-Casa is the masterwork of a supremely keen observer of human behavior.