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Hubbard Street took the DPAC stage last Friday to perform three very diverse works – “Quintett,  by *William Forsythe, “Little Mortal Jump” by Alejandro Cerrudo and “Too Beaucoup” by Sharon Eyal.

Though at first glance “Quintett” may have looked like a slow-paced show opener, the work burst with innovative choreography and kinetic energy. Dancers were clad in bright colors; orange, green, purple, blue and black stood out against a white background that came to life via projection only at the work’s end. Until that moment, it was up to the dancers to keep the audience engaged – an especially challenging feat to accomplish as the drone of Gavin Bryar’s “Jesus’ Blood Never Bound Me,” played on endless repeat.

Dancers connected with one another from the onset of this piece; what began as non-sexual voyeurism informed emotional bonds and stable physical partnerships with time. Forsythe’s smart use of solos, duets, trios and group choreography conveyed isolation, grief, hope and happiness – each only when appropriate. A playful duet mid-piece between the dancers in orange and green highlighted the natural fearlessness, strong technique and joy in movement that characterize Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. And these elements were echoed in Cerrudo’s work.

Cerrudo’s “Little Mortal Jump” capitalized on an episodic structure, smart use of props and the element of surprise to intensify a shifting energy onstage. The audience’s gasps and giggles seemed integral to the existence of the dancers’ world, but that is not to say that the performance quality was ever over-the-top. On the contrary, the HSDC dancers exuded a perfect mix of authentic emotion and dramatic flair. Standout moments in this piece occurred at the beginning, when a man jumped off of the stage’s edge without warning; mid-piece, when two dancers leapt into Velcro walls to begin a duet; and at the end of the work, when two dancers engaged in an intimate, intricate, highly physical duet with an unforgettable ending. (I’m not giving that one away!)

Too Beacoup / Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

The night came to a close with Sharon Eyal’s “Too Beaucoup.” I originally reviewed this work when it premiered at HSDC’s Spring 2011 concert (Click HERE to read a more detailed description of the piece itself), and I found that I paid more attention to individual dancers during this second viewing. Though I first saw “Too Beaucoup” as the second of a two-piece concert, it was shown as the last in a series of three at ADF; this re-orientation honed my attention to the dancers’ endurance and to their acts of physical preservation throughout the work. For example, I noticed that one dancer seemed to be performing his group choreography with a little less luster than was appropriate, but I immediately understood when he broke out into an extended solo with full attack. That being said, I didn’t find this version of “Too Beaucoup” to be quite as magical as its premiere.

If you saw the show, leave me a comment to let me know what you thought!

*Forsythe is the 2012 Samuel Scripps/ADF Award winner.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Artistic Director:

Friday, June 29, 2012

Durham Performing Arts Center

Presented by The American Dance Festival