Chicago Dance Review: HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO (2019 Summer Series at the Harris)

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by Lawrence Bommer on June 7, 2019

in Dance,Theater-Chicago


Talk about springing toward the solstice. Literally leaping into summer, this season’s edition of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Summer Series is not the place for premieres. Instead, retrospectively honoring four crowd-pleasing repertory highlights with faithful revivals, this weekend’s program at the Harris Theatre reprises works that didn’t last long enough.

Most winningly, the four-dance bill contrasts intimate and group creations to showcase both the company’s incredible discipline in synchronicity and dancing in depth and the marvelous movements that two performers can make together and apart.

First up is a do-over of Brian Brooks’ literal-minded The Loss of Space, a 2016 piece that begins with dancers dressed in white spooling out into complex configurations.  These are followed by steps in slow-motion, then filigreed formations with decorative gestures. Brooks compares this organized chaos to a flock of birds that add direction to impulse—and indeed the random couplings morph and merge with a fluidity as natural as a flock.

Moving from large to small, two works by Crystal Pite depict very different couples caught in flux. Narrated by Kate Strong, A Picture of You Falling involves both verbal and physical manipulation as Anna Lopez and Craig D. Black Jr. (alternating with Jacqueline Burnett and Elliot Hammans) indulge in fragmented and isolated strategies of approach/avoidance. Spotlights pinpoint movements frozen in time.

Performed to an obsessive and percussive score by Owen Belton, this roundelay of intimacy and independence put two busy bodies through a pulsating stress test. Less is more as individual gestures achieve a larger resonance that seems to illustrate Salvador Dali’s “persistence of memory.”

Resembling twins, Pite’s second couple — Michael Gross and Andrew Murdock — at first perform to street sound effects, then to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Again, we see spinning cycles of connections and rupture, jerky gyrations, dissolution and then disappearance. The work ends with a lone lover, his mouth gaping open in unappeasable loss. As the title suggests, The Other You suggests a self that was once greater than the sum of its parts, now splitting off with sorrow to spare.

Finally, a work of astounding coordination and dedicated simultaneity: Alejandro Cerrudo’s Out of Your Mind (another title that tells all) requires awesome unison movement from sixteen dancers clad in green tops. Creating undulating waves with hands and symmetrical synchronization with flailing bodies, it’s as dream-like as dance delivers. Indulging in a voice-over of philosopher Alan Watt’s maunderings about dreams and meditation, this sinuous creation coils and snaps and, however precious, utterly convulsed the crowd.

photos by Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
2019 Summer Series
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
Millennium Park, 205 East Randolph St
ends on June 9, 2018
for tickets, call 312-635-3799 or visit Hubbard

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