Chicago Theatre Review
Hubbard Street continues tradition of excellence with Crystal Pite program
Hubbard Street Dance
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has carved out a unique niche as one of the most daring and thrilling dance companies in the Second City, and it continued that standard of excellence and adventure with a new December program committed to the works of Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite.
The program began with “A Picture of You Falling,” a piece Hubbard had performed a solo excerpt from in previous shows (including the company’s stunning 40th anniversary show). For its new program, though, Hubbard is performing the full piece, which includes breathtaking duet segments in addition to its virtuosic solo routines, which play with time and motion in remarkable ways. Beautifully lit in warm, gold tones by Robert Sondergaard via several streetlights, the show is propelled by a humorous, sometimes unsettling narration from Kate Strong, one that dictates various things to the dancers. Wry, sensual, and unpredictable, it is a terrific way to start the show.
Up next is “The Other You,” another duet that is Beckett-esque in its dry tone and surreal qualities. Performed by Andrew Murdock and Michael Gross, the 19-minute piece follows one man as he dictates the movements of another dancer with rag-doll physics. The dancers are complement by nothing but rain and wind in the background (courtesy of the excellent Owen Belton) until the piece’s closing moments, when the men embark on a flowing sequence to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Admittedly, I did not connect with “The Other You” like I did “A Picture of You Falling,” but it was still a probing, intriguing work of intellectual dance.
Closing out the show is “Grace Engine,” a virtuosic piece that features 16 of Hubbard’s dancers. Against virtuosic lighting from Jim French, the 16 performers run, jump, and sway across the stage in large synchronized movements that eschew overly complex synchronizations. The effect is stunning – more than a dozen bodies maintaining incredibly difficult positions in unorthodox sequences, often while soloists or duet performers utilize the remaining space. It is a fitting way to close a show chockfull of intellect and daring – yet accessible – dance sequences.
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at the Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601, through December 10
Tickets are available at https://www.harristheaterchicago.org or by calling 312.334.7777.