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Dance review: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at the Irvine Barclay Theatre

February 13, 2011 | 12:26 pm

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A near perfect storm of movement, music and choreography thundered through the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Saturday when Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presented three mostly intoxicating works:  two new to Southern California (both from 2010) and “Too Beaucoup,”  an out-of-town preview of Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal’s 33-minute opus. It has its “official” premiere March 17 in the Windy City, making this only a sneak peak, alas, and not available to review. 

Still, under Glenn Edgerton’s artistic direction, Hubbard happily continues its foray into the austere and the audacious — call them brave new works — by today’s cutting-edge dance makers. Opening with Aszure Barton’s “Untouched,” with a plush scarlet curtain as backdrop, a dozen dancers made grand entrances through the imposing velvet drapes.  Veering from bordello chic and debutante ballish to neo-operatic, the work was set to a mournful piano and string score by Njo Kong Kie, Curtis Macdonald and Ljova.

Flowing with emotive solos, determined duets and large group unisons, the work also featured a courtly neo-pavane threaded between thigh-slapping maneuvers and samba sashays.  Ana Lopez and Benjamin Wardell proved deeply affecting in the work’s final moments, their interlocking bodies and gentle caresses segueing to a sleek separation.

Hubbard Street’s dancer/resident choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo, offered “Deep Down Dos,” a nonet set to Mason Bates’ irritating synthesized score.  Meant to resemble subway sounds and shifting tectonic plates, the fidgety rhythms accompanied dancers in perpetual motion, their feathery leaps, one-armed handstands and crisp turns highlighted by mobile spotlights that seemingly amped up an already frenzied kineticism.

But the evening belonged to Eyal, longtime Batsheva Dance Company member and in-house choreographer since 2005.  Making use of Batsheva director Ohad Naharin’s Gaga technique, a vocabulary connecting imagination through the body, Eyal’s work is a fierce study in groupology, stamina and twitchy precision.  Militaristically cavorting to Ori Lichtik’s divine mash-up score, 15 dancers in flesh-colored unitards and short blond wigs (Nijinsky’s “Faun,” anyone?) made goofy robo-moves and cartoony gambits akin to a thrilling alien rave. 

Chicago is lucky to not only see the finished product (Eyal’s first for an American troupe) but also to call the glorious movers and shakers of Hubbard Street its own.

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— Victoria Looseleaf

Photo: Ana Lopez and Benjamin Wardell in "Deep Down Dos."  Credit: Todd Rosenberg. 

 

 

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