Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Spring Series 2013 | Dance review
By opening with Alonzo King’s regal Rasa, then following with the magic realism of Alejandro Cerrudo’s Little mortal jump—two regulars in each company’s respective reps—LINES Ballet and Hubbard Street show just how different they are. Where the San Fran–based LINES is more neoclassical and turned out, Hubbard Street is more contemporary and turned in. Distinguishing the two companies, though, is sometimes an arbitrary task during the final piece of Hubbard Street’s Spring Series, which sees members from LINES and HSDC sharing the Harris stage.
AZIMUTH, the last of the three-piece program, is a daring work of dense numbers. The much-anticipated 28-member collaboration between LINES and Hubbard Street (12 from LINES, 16 from HSDC), commissioned by the Harris and choreographed by King, is a lesson in kinesthetic symbiosis; bodies coerce where subsequent encounters benefit the whole.
Broken into nine sections, AZIMUTH, defined in the program as “one of three coordinates identifying a point on a sphere, relative to its center,” opens with all 28 onstage. In graceful pursuits, driven by the aesthetic of King’s neoclassical technique, the piece indulges in impressive schemes. The ensemble starts strong then diverges into groupings and partnering in varying sections. Taking in the multitude of bodies underscores the scale of HSDC artistic director Glenn Edgerton and King’s grand experiment, which is unique to its kind. (Credit Edgerton for bringing up the idea of collaborating in the first place.)
That said, the beauty of AZIMUTH is not always large scale. King relies on simple sections, rather than complex geometries. An especially surprising moment sees the always-poised Kellie Epperheimer being inverted into the air by Jonathan Fredrickson, Garret Anderson, Jesse Bechard and David Schultz. Epperheimer’s strength stands out, as does her zeal. She gives her weight to the men, trusting them to hold firm. Even when Epperheimer walks steady on their backs, like over a series of stones in a river creek, it’s impressive the way she maintains balance. Jacqueline Burnett also earns special praise in section five.
Ultimately, AZIMUTH doesn’t underwhelm, but it also doesn’t floor. It's perhaps too similar to King's Rasa, which opens the program. The mastery of the collaboration comes from the dancers, more notably the Hubbard Street crew. LINES is, of course, accustomed to what King brings to the table on a daily basis; HSDC had to adjust to a different style and adjusted well. That might be the deciding difference.