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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at 25!
by Elyse Sommer At a time when art organizations are struggling for survival, it is heartening to share Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's 25th birthday. With its founder Lou Conte having turned over the reins to Jim Vincent, the company is in good hands, offering its legions of fans a combination of new look dances and such super peppy Hubbard Street signature works as "Minus 16" choreographed by Ohad Naham. That final work of Program A (Program B -- Friday at 8 and Sat and Sun at 2pm features "counter/part, Cor Perdut, No More Play, Full Grown Man") is a reprise from the company's last appearance at Jacob's Pillow a couple of seasons ago. If the audience response is any indication, the company can't repeat this maniacally energetic full company piece often enough. Its fourth-wall breaking audience participation segment is a particular applause and cheers gatherer.
Seeing the dancers stride down the aisles to persuade twenty men and women and one little girl to drop their inhibitions and join them is indeed lots of fun. More than that, watching this segment for the second time underscores just how integral it is to the overall mood of the total collage which begins during the intermission with Massimo Pacilli in black suit and hat dancing a solo as if he were a bit drunk. He's joined on stage by the rest of the company, similarly attired, and before long doing amazing twists and leaps while sitting in chairs placed in a circle. Finally, and somewhat eerily, everyone strips to their underway, tossing suits, hats and shoes into the circle. You get the sense of a Hasidic Wedding gone mad. When the madness (a metaphor for world events?) temporarily turns calm. The group now traverses the stage, with an individual leaving this formation at each stage crossing for a solo-illustrated taped biographical sketch. Again , there's a mysterious sense of something darker beneath the mad gaiety so that by the time the twenty audience members are persuaded to shed their inhibitions there's a cummulative feeling of relief. Life is fun and to be celebrated no matter what sadness and madness has occurred.
"Passomezzo", also by Ohad Naham, was another reprise from the company's previous visit. The duet, elegantly performed by Robyn Mineko Williams and Christopher Tierney is a dialogue in movement between a man and a woman's coming together, apart and together. The curtain raiser, "Jardi Tancat (Closed Garden)" by Nacho Duarto, was an ensemble piece with the suggestion of three couples occupied with farming activities, lending something of a Spanish Agnes DeMille flavor, beautifully enhanced by the music of Maria Del Mar Bonet.
Kevin O'Day's "Quartet for IV (and sometimes one, two or three. . .)" had its moments, but they went on too long and Kevin Volans' hypnotic score was rather nerve wracking.
To a company that began with four dancers (all women) giving their first performance in a senior citizen home and expanded to a 21-member main company travelling throughout the world, all one can say is: You've come a long way. Happy Birthday. And keep dancing!
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