Chicago Dance Review: ONE THOUSAND PIECES (Hubbard Street Dance Chicago)

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by Lawrence Bommer on December 13, 2013

in Dance,Theater-Chicago


Following its world debut last year as a “gift to the city” (gratefully accepted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, also in attendance for its revival last night), One Thousand Pieces pays its respects to The America Windows. Now a Chicago landmark, these are the Art Institute’s now famous stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. Commissioned to memorialize the 1976 death of the first Mayor Richard Daley, these popular light paintings create a dance in their own right, depicting a very vertical world of magical beasts, spiritual transformations and flying citizens and angels. Interestingly, the windows were given to Chicago by the artist in 1977, the same year that Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was founded by Lou Conte.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago 1000 Peices

So One Thousand Pieces offers a classic case of art imitating art: One Chicago treasure mirrors another. To a surprisingly tender and characteristically driving score by Philip Glass, this 90-minute work (with a 20-minute intermission) by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo consists of three very different parts, held together by Glass’s richly moody music and the sheer sweep of Cerrudo’s eclectic imagination.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago 1000 Peices

Dressed in dark blue, the full company engages in the first part, working through a maze of moving panels and mirrors. They find themselves caught up in swirling couplings, envelopments that plead for connection, ritualistic at times but always fluid and supple, which is the same way in which Cerrudo creates movement. As fragmented as the glass mosaics that comprise Chagall’s soaring fantasies, the pell-mell entrances and exits change scenes just as the sun alters the colors in these glorious windows.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago 1000 Peices

In an interlude, Jonathan Frederickson, suspended in full evening dress over the audience, recounts a night-soaked tale of lovers declaring their passion and kissing in full “oscillation” (much like his dangling) on a park bench. His confession of the need and search for love ushers in a section with two couples, three female dancers and two shirtless male dancers, whirling, shrugging, writhing, embracing and splitting off beneath hanging windows, like shards of stained glass. Jets of steam and fog soak the stage as serpentine liaisons punctuate the shadowy stage.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago 1000 Peices

Replete with full-blown dancing both compulsively manic and perfectly synchronized, the third part opens with the entire ensemble in a straight line, suddenly and funkily gyrating or gesticulating as if swept up in a communal dream. From there they break up into an urgent search for some saving encounter, sometimes in a slow motion perfectly reflected by Glass’s rhythmic hesitations, often in fast-forward desperation. (Well, love works mainly by the process of elimination.) Scattered as they seem, by work’s end they blend together like the panes of The America Windows. Seldom has dance so eloquently proclaimed, “Let there be light.”

Hubbard Street Dancers Jacqueline Burnett and David Schultz in ONE THOUSAND PIECES by Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

photos by Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dancers Ana Lopez, Jacqueline Burnett and Jessica Tong in ONE THOUSAND PIECES by Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

One Thousand Pieces
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph Dr.
ends on December 15, 2013
for tickets, call 312-850-9744 or visit Hubbard Street

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

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