Chicago Dance Review: HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO (Winter Series 2012 at Harris Theatre)

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by Lawrence Bommer on December 7, 2012

in Theater-Chicago

FINDING NEW WAYS TO TURN A BODY

The big news from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as the intrepid troupe launches their four-day “winter series” at the Harris Theatre in Millennium Park? It’s the company premiere of Swedish choreographer Mats Ek’s ambitious 40-minute Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Winter Series 2012 Harris Theatrecreation Casi-Casa. Full of glimpses of life caught in its ill-assorted acts, it’s a fascinating example of Ek’s concept of “social staging”—dance that looks for life’s rhythms in the smallest of activities. This 2009 work combines Ek’s earlier works The Apartment and Fluke with a score by the Swedish band Fleshquartet. That fluid musical backdrop allows the action to depict a recluse on a contorted recliner reviling his T.V. set, a fighting couple with a smoky oven, a homoerotic male trio who dissolve into a complex and exhilarating duo, and a chorus of angry women pushing vacuum cleaners that echo the music’s references to bag pipes.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Winter Series 2012 Harris TheatreFlopping down, over, and around seems a favorite device of modern dance to convey longings that fester into frustration. You see it in Casi-Casa and other offerings in this four-work program. Though less than captivating as a whole and enigmatic to a fault, Aszure Barton’s Untouched uses an eclectic score to create isolated, angst-ridden moments performed before a red curtain and drenched in secretive movements—twirls, jumps, squats and processional friezes. Throughout the piece the music seems more solemn than the movement. Interestingly, it was created by Barton’s individual and improvised work with the dancers themselves: Site-specific now means performer-made.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Winter Series 2012 Harris TheatreFinally, distinct all-male and all-female dances created by company member Alejandro Cerrudo present an exercise in contrast that’s also pure exercise in itself. In Blanco, four women in gray leotards enact a kind of slow-motion aerobics with smoky accompaniment to a haunting score by Felix Mendelssohn and Charles-Valentin Alkan. It pays convoluted homage to the inner working of romantic piano pieces. The minimalism of the movement contrasts richly with the exuberance of the accompaniment.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Winter Series 2012 Harris TheatreCompletely different, the effervescent, all-male Pacopepepluto is a florid floor exercise performed to hit songs by Dean Martin. Dressed in flesh-covered, tightly-clinging costumes that in the dim lighting strongly suggest nudity, three superb athletes (Johnny McMillian, David Schultz, and Pablo Piantino) rush about, flailing their arms and kicking their legs with sheer abandon and unashamed bravado. For seven minutes they tumbled and spun with all the crazy freedom of “That’s Amore.” That’s dancing!

photos by Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago: Winter Series 2012
Harris Theater in Millennium Park
scheduled to end on Dec. 9, 2012
for tickets call 312-850-9744 or visit website at http://www.hubbardstreetdance.com

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Winter Series 2012 Harris Theatre

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit http://www.TheatreinChicago.com

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