Following its record-breaking 25th anniversary spring engagement in its hometown of Chicago, a two-week New York run and various important summer appearances at Wolftrap, Jacob’s Pillow and the Ravina Festival, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago graced us with its presence on Oct. 15, filling the Barclay Theatre stage with great audacity and tantalizing moves.
Since it’s founding in 1977 by Lou Conte and now under the new direction of Jim Vincent, this dynamic dance company has confirmed its reputation as an internationally acclaimed modern dance ensemble with dancers of impressive versatility. They exhibit superb skills in ballet, jazz, pop and acrobatics. Such dexterous talents and cutting-edge choreography create repertories that can only be described as fiercely prodigious and ardently contemporary in style.
Set to Mozart piano concertos, the program began with ‘Petit Mort’ (Small Death). This sensual ballet for six men, six women and six foils is an ode to love. It is representative of a spirited warrior returning home after a successful battle, only to find himself dying later in the arms of the woman he loves. Choreographed by Jiri Kylian, this truly heartfelt piece features intimate duets, each of which evoke a different mood. This routine was truly one of kind with its dancers sashaying and gliding ever so delicately on stage. The dancers evince their talents as they express every gesture and every movement with remarkable intensity.
Another riveting piece entitled ‘Diphthong,’ with its Southern California premiere, exemplified dance as a manner of expressive art combining aspects that are classical yet modern. With its earthy hues and African soul-meets-the-classics ambience, the dancers exhibited their ability to mix ballet, jazz and hip-hop into a powerful and dramatic piece. In many ways, this piece resembles a hymn to the wilderness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature and nature itself. Full of tenderness and earthly spirituality, it was undoubtedly unconventional yet profoundly interesting to see how rhythmic and entrancing beats can be assimilated with such classical movements.
Featuring music by Maria del Mar Bonet and ingeniously choreographed by Nacho Duato, ‘Cor Perdut,’ which translates to ‘lost heart’ in Catalan, was one of the most compelling performances within the repertoire. Curling of bodies and sinewy arabesques came naturally to the dancing duet, Cheryl Mann and Tobin Del Cuore, who both wore crimson-colored clothing, symbolizing the passion between them. In a way, this piece mirrors two lovers who find themselves facing disparate love predicaments, but find a connection to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a common interest