BWW Review: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago comes to New York City
The opening night of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's two-week Return Engagement at the Joyce Theater, NYC was Wednesday 3/6/19; and I was happy to attend. The first-week features works by Ohad Naharin (Director of Batsheva Dance Company, Israel) with DecaDance/Chicago which included segments of Naharin's creations, having debuted between 1993 and 2011.
Glenn Edgerton, Artistic Director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, has had an international career as a dancer and as a director. He danced for eleven years with the Joffrey Ballet under the mentorship of Robert Joffrey. In 1989 he became a dancer with the acclaimed Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), where he danced for five years before becoming the artistic director of NDT 1. Hubbard Street Dance is seemingly the closest US company in spirit to European contemporary dance companies. The dancers demonstrate a remarkable 100% commitment, assurance, confidence, and dedication to the movement that draws us (the audience) in. I expect that it starts at the top with Edgerton and those around him, leading the way. It was the dancers' performance that impressed me the most.
The company, huddled together center stage, wearing colored t-shirts (men) or camisoles (women) and stretch jeans opened the evening. They moved as a unit using arm and core choreography. It was a good start. Not everything that followed in the first half of the performance was memorable, however. Gaga, Naharin's movement research that fuels his choreography is explained by Naharin, "We are aware of the connection between effort and pleasure, we are aware of the distance between our body parts, we are aware of the friction between flesh and bones, we sense the weight of our body parts, yet, our form is not shaped by gravity . . . ". This is an interesting perspective. Perhaps it is just not my cup of tea, but I found much of it sophomoric.
The second act opened with an MC, equipped with a microphone, who asked the audience to stand (no doubt a time killer). Then he said, "If you are a great grandparent, sit down. If you make more than $25000.00, sit down. If you know where Mecca is, sit down, If you masturbate, good for you. Etc..." Those I spoke with were offended. Dancers came into the audience, each picking someone to bring onto the stage to "dance" with them. It looked like group therapy. I had seen this before by a few other companies and Juilliard (where it worked best). Did people pay to see professionals dance or ...whatever?
They performed another piece I have seen multiple times before by Batsheva, Le Grand Theatre de Geneve, and Juilliard in which all the dancers, wearing black suits and hats with white shirts sat in chairs in a semi-circle, facing the audience. The choreography was engaging and very well done, one of the best performances of this work I have seen. It was fresh, as if new. This would have been an excellent place to end the evening. Instead, it was followed by a piece I have seen many times, as well, that seems silly to me (no doubt I am not the target audience). Back in the colored t-shirts, in three lines, the first in line comes forward and does something like pull up his or her shirt, goes to the back of the line; and each in the line comes forward and does the same until the movement changes. That was the last piece.
I am looking forward to seeing this impressive company performing works of Crystal Pite, a choreographer who has left a good impression with each viewing, in week two, Tuesday, 3/12 through Sunday, 3/17.
Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg