Hubbard Street Dance Review – This is Why We Love Dance

Hubbard Street Dance
Photo: Todd Rosenberg

Opener with Jiří Kylián Masterpieces

How brave of Hubbard Dance Company to open with two related works by choreographer Jiří Kylián, “Falling Angels” and “Sarabande”. These are two late 20th Century masterpieces of choreography and they are stunning.

Within seconds of “Falling Angels” start, the quirky movements of the eight women Hubbard dancers (Jacqueline Burnett, Alicia Delgadillo, Kellie Epperheimer, Alice Klock, Emilie Leriche, Adrienne Lipson, Ana Lopez, Jessica Tong) in costumes somewhat like oldie time bathing suits that seemed to highlight the power in their thighs, simply snags you. With an accompanying mesmerizing score by percussion composer Steve Reich, and lighting that seems to dance with the dancers (Lighting Design by Joop Caboort, after a concept by Jiří Kylián), we watch them perk and quirk and come to life as automated dancing widgets.  

This opener alone makes it worth the time and trip to see Hubbard Dance’s Fall Program.

The accompanying piece by Jiří Kylián, Sarabande, for six men (Jeffery Duffy, Michael Gross, Andrew Murdock, Jesse Bechard, David Schultz, and Kevin J. Shannon) is, in a word, creepy. They emerge from oversized 17th Century womens’ ball gowns that light them below as they flex, gyrate and move. There is a feeling of violence and the electronic warp of Bach’s music in the audio equivalent of a Coney Island mirror distortion adds to the ghoulish tension. At one point, as they peel off their shirts those same shirts become quasi-straight jackets that they seem to be trying to escape. These are very aggressive movements, though not in the sense of fighting.

 

Hubbard Street Dance
Hubbard Street Dancer Jessica Tong, concept by Alejandro Cerrudo. Photo by Quinn B Wharton
Hubbard Street Dance
Jesse Bechard and Jason Hortin. Concept by Alejandro Cerrudo. Photo by Quinn B. Wharton
Hubbard Street Dance
Terrain by Brian Brooks Todd Rosenberg
Hubbard Street Dance
Terrain by Brian Brooks Todd Rosenberg
Hubbard Street Dance
Terrain by Brian Brooks Todd Rosenberg
Hubbard Street Dance
Terrain by Brian Brooks Todd Rosenberg
Hubbard Street Dance
"Terrain" By Brian Brooks Todd Rosenberg.

World Premiere- "Terrain"

The much anticipated world premier of “Terrain”, by Harris’ first choreographer-in-residence, Brian Brooks, followed like a celery juice chaser on an all night booze binge. It was pure and downright sweet, but the testosterone self-flagellating moments of the prior Sarabande were still in the air.

White clad, these aforementioned dancers plus Jason Hortin and Florian Lochner, form and re-form a line that then breaks into what could be described like Tai Chi sparring trying to break through a melting layer on top. Music is by Todd Reynolds. Perhaps because the program notes described this as relating to “organic structures”, it struck this reviewer that the neat folding of the dancers’ bodies at the conclusion was similar to looking at the elegance of interlocking spinal vertebrae making a neat 45 degree angle bisection of the stage.  

 

Masterpiece Conclusion from Cerrudo

If Hubbard choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s “Niebla” had continued in the same energy vein as “Terrain”, it may have understimulated us into spacing out. Not to worry‑“Niebla”, Spanish for “fog”, comes on like a stimulant drug. It starts with the innovative Lighting Design by Michael Korsh, that creates large projected triangle spaces seeming to swim with smoke currents, morphing until the similarly oooh and aaah light show of trisecting angles at the conclusion.

In these light frames the dancers move in and out of fast-paced make and breaks of groupings with backdrops of Bach, Liszt, and Schubert piano music that the dancers move in and around, but less predictably with. The program notes explain, “’Niebla’, Spanish for ‘fog’, explores revealing moments when the visual frame changes and objects are noticed only when they have been removed from sight.” By my lights, it’s not the feeling of fog, but rather the crisp clarity of a landscape at that moment when the fog melts that Cerruda’s choreography harkens, especially in its finale.

 

When:

Through November 20, 2016

 

Where:

Harris Theater for Music and Dance

 

Tickets:

Visit the Hubbard Dance website for tickets.

 

Photos:  Todd Rosenberg

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