In Robyn Mineko Williams’s Cloudline, we see various duets and solos, compelling composition of the bodies in space against what looks like a large, mauve colored piece of fabric draped on the back wall. The dancers maneuver themselves across each others’ bodies, sometimes as if flying across another’s back, or pulled from one side of the stage to the other, we feel a push-pull rhythm as the dancers move about the space. It is a unique rhythm, separate from the driving, upbeat music: the rhythm of the dance itself. Partnerships are formed and passed along in this rhythm, connected by carrying each other’s heads, or heads connecting to stomachs, placing and replacing each other throughout the piece.
As the dance progresses - with duets and other partnering - the curtain backdrop becomes a fabric as large as the stage – with dancers moving under, over and around it. Meanwhile, we hear lyrics from perhaps an old recording, “When the one you love is gone…It’s different now I wasn’t older yet, I wasn’t over you,” accompanied by softer piano notes filling the Auditorium.
Ah!—Cloudline! of the title… We feel as if in another world, floating on clouds with them as we bear witness to the flowing of the cloth and the dance. The magical combination of the lighting on the fabric and the dancers, the overall motion of these elements makes us feel nothing but serenity.
Next, in Ocaso, a duet performed by Malpaso Dance Company Artistic Director Osnel Delgado and Alicia Delgadillo, we see two dancers move with, through, and around each other, navigating the vast stage washed in blue light. Their arms wrap around each other, and then one partner would fall out of the embrace as if the floor dropped from under them. They pulled and pushed and eventually find themselves in a tight embrace at the front of the stage. The lights dimly focus in on them, holding each other, and in the next beats they fall down toward the floor. Their connection throughout the piece is palpable, and it ends like a gasp.
After intermission, we are graced with two world premieres—Elemental, choreographed by Robyn Mineko Williams and The Windless Hold, choreographed by Malpaso Malpaso Artistic Director Osnel Delgado
In Williams’ Elemental we see a man in an orange blazer constantly influenced by the dancers around him, entering and exiting relationships with different and multiple partners. A motif recurs of a dancer suggesting they are holding another person up by a string above their head, which is then released dropping the person as if the string was cut. We feel a sense of nostalgia, a deep sense of remembrance and love throughout this debut. It is powerful.
To close the show, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performed The Windless Hold, and had the audience awestruck as dancers demonstrated their technical prowess as they enter and exit throughout the piece by tiptoe-ing as quickly as possible, as if gliding across the floor. The final duet of the night ends this physically pleasing dance piece.
The partnership between Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Malpaso Dance Company of Cuba was, in this writer’s view, seamless. The dancers from each company met each others’ standards of technique, partnering, and choreography throughout the entire evening.
Full Cast List
Hubbard Street Dancers:
Jacqueline Burnett, Craig D. Black Jr., Rena Butler, Alicia Delgadillo, Kellie Epperheimer, Michael Gross, Elliot Hammans, Alysia Johnson, Myles Lavallee, Adrienne Lipson, Florian Lochner, Ana Lopez, Andrew Murdock, David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon, Connie Shiau
Dunia Acosta, Esteban Aguilar, Maria Karla Araujo, Fernando Benet, Manuel Duran, Beatriz Garcia, Armando Gomez, Abel Rojo, Lisbeth Saad, Daileidys Carrazana
Robyn Mineko Williams, Osnel Delgado
For more about Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, visit Hubbard Street Dance Chicago website
For more about Malpaso Dance Company, visit Malpaso Dance Company website
For more about the Auditorium Theatre, visit the Auditorium Theatre website.
Photos: Cloudline, Ocaso, and The Windless Hold -Cheryl Mann; Elemental - Rachel Aka
Sarah Stearn, a native of Chicago, is a dancer and videographer. She has recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a BFA in Dance, and is excited to be back in the city. Currently, she works with Tuli Bera on the J e l l o Performance Series.