danc(e)volve @ Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

danc(e)volve @ Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Dance Review by Mary Crylen

3 out of 4 stars

The spring engagement for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Season 39 danc(e)volve: New Works Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art is a stunning display of talent and passion. Performances include world premieres by Julia Rhoads, Artistic Director of Luck Plush Productions, and Robyn Mineko Williams, along with a main stage debut of Berceuse by Penny Saunders and Alice Klock’s Clan(device). Artistic director for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Glenn Edgerton, describes the program’s choreographer’s as “incredibly creative and their hearts show through each piece”. Cadence by Julia Rhoads opens the night with an expressive and self-aware piece which blurs the line between audience and dancers. While lights are still raised in the house and the audience chatting, performers slowly gather on stage to stretch and chat amongst themselves. The intimate setting allows the transfer of conversation and energy from the seats to the stage. A bold choice to rely on a natural transition like that highlights the intrinsic aspects of artistry that lies within the mundane or in this case, the prep work. From stretching to sequences that culminate into a seamless collective movement. The dancers ebb and flow as one, each one complimenting the other. Rhodes’ decision integrating sound through collaboration with sound designer, Michael Caskey, and vocal specialist, Bethany Clearfield, sets this work apart. Singing and dancing is no small feat and applause to this group for making a haunting acapella performance simultaneously with their physical movement. Along with incorporating teamwork and trust activities reflects themes of community. The blending of fun with the art form. The movements were tight, yet there was a casual and insightful mood that made Rhoads' work truly enjoyable. 

Berceuse is a duet set to excerpts from the opera Jocelyn (1888) by French composer Benjamin Louis Paul Godard. Penny Saunder’s beautifully fast paced partnering is simply lovely! The careful use of spotlight and directional lighting creates depth, as well as a pushed focus to each dancer’s perspective of the other in mutual observation of the relationship. The monotone light grey costuming with soft direct top down lighting created a beautiful experience with Jacqueline Burnett’s fluid motions reflecting dreamily on the floor. A contrast to Clan(device) by Alice Klock. Strong side light, smoke and bold moves brought the drama. A male dominated performance of quick footwork and powerful sequences will bring you to the edge of your seat. David Schultz’s ferocity and power on every position was incredible and I would be remiss to not mention the compelling fluidity and evocative performance of Florian Lochner. An overall complex work utilizing contortions and unique shapes to weave together a story of struggle into an exhilarating performance! And to close the evening, three-time Princess Grace Award-winner, Robyn Mineko Williams, premieres her new work, Cloudline. A bewitching performance with an exemplary use of fabric, light and movement. Within the space, each duet compares and contrasts itself against the others. The large white sheet utilized in this piece was well explored for it’s best range of motion to arouse a mood, whether airy or turbulent. The interaction between dancer and prop was wonderfully executed. Incorporating props into choreography can be tricky and heavy handed in story-telling, but Williams’ choreography surpasses with wonderful finesse. A blend of wonderful performances by Emilie Leriche and others to monitor such a large prop, while nailing such a stimulating work. With each performance having it’s own flare and style, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is a great way to spend an evening. 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s core purpose is to bring artists, art and audiences together to enrich, engage, educate, transform and change lives through the experience of dance. Hubbard Street’s Season 39 danc(e)volve engagement is at the Museum of Contemporary Art, located at 220 E Chicago Ave. To purchase tickets, please visit hubbardstreetdance.com/dancevolve or by phone Hubbard Street Ticket Office at 312-850-9744. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will launch it’s 40th season this June! 

Hubbard Street Dancers Jessica Tong and Jason Hortin in Cloudline by Robyn Mineko Williams - Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dancers Jessica Tong and Jason Hortin in Cloudline by Robyn Mineko Williams - Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Mary Crylen is a photographer and writer based in Chicago. She is an alum of Southern Illinois University of Carbondale with a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Photography. She possesses a sincere passion for the arts and believes zeal shows through work. Follow her on Twitter!