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BWW Reviews: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Takes New York City

This is a contemporary ballet company in the style of European contemporary companies. Under the artistic direction of Glenn Edgerton -- a former beloved dancer with the Joffrey Ballet for 11 years and then with the acclaimed Nederlands Dance Theater for five years, after which he became Artistic Director, leading NDT I for a decade -- this company shines. What a pleasure it is to see this level of energy and movement quality in a contemporary company, as I did on opening night, Tuesday May 12th, at the Joyce Theater.

With the opening work, Second to Last (Excerpt), choreography by Alejandro Cerrudo, Hubbard Street Resident Choreographer and still a dancer with the company, to music by Arvo Pärt, I was sold, ready to return to see Program B. This ballet was an exploration of the choreographic possibilities of the duet form. There were five duets, which included fluid arms, legs, and jumps. All couples moved with smooth, seamless movements, side by side or intertwined. The lighting was dark and the costumes black, making the dance appear to occur in a haze. The way the dancers interacted was often original, with unusual lifts. Although the couples were not particular in spirit from each other, there was not a dull moment. The audience was riveted, exploding in applause at the finish.

A Picture of You Falling---choreography and text by Crystal Pite to music of Owen Belton, with the voice of Kate Strong--is a solo, brilliantly performed by Jason Hortin. Pite created it in two versions, a duet and a solo, It is both quirky and musical and endlessly fun to watch.

Cloudless, also choreographed by Cerrudo, is a duet danced by two women, Ana Lopez and Jacqueline Burnett, to music of Nils Farhm. This was the choreographer's encrypted first duet, for female dancers. Some of the fluid movements resembled the vocabulary in Second to Last, but seemed to be more about the two smoothly making shapes, again with precise musicality.

Waxing Moon, choreography by Robyn Mineko Williams, music of Robert F.Haynes and Tony Lazzara for two men and a woman, opens with a relatively dark stage with a chair and square of bright light downstage to our right. The program notes: "As its' title suggests, Waxing Moon contemplates the process of becoming; it's protagonist considers possibilities for his future through engagement with two forces we see as figures." As with all the other pieces, the strength is in the intensity and commitment of these fine dancers.

The last piece, I am Mr. B, although dressed in black suits & ribbon ties with blue jackets and white shirts, was brightly lit and livelier. This piece for 12 dancers, choreographed by Gustavo Ramirez Sansano to the Tchaikovsky music Balanchine used for his Theme and Variations, was a favorite work of Sansano's when he was a ballet dancer. The choreography was contemporary in style, and all the dancers, male and female, were dressed as Mr. B. Again, the musicality was marvelous, as was the explosion of so many Balanchines' on stage. This upbeat work left the audience on a high note at the end of the evening.

Hubbard Street Dance will be at the Joyce Theater through May 23, 2015. I highly recommend that you see them.

Photo credit: Yi Chun Wu

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