Hubbard Street Dance Chicago: “danc(e)volve: New Works Festival” | Live review + photos

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  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Felicia McBride and Nicholas Korkos of Hubbard Street 2 in Path and Observations by Johnny McMillan, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Nicholas Korkos in Path and Observations by Johnny McMillan of Hubbard Street 2, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    HSDC dancer Alice Klock in Path and Observations by Johnny McMillan of Hubbard Street 2, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Emilie Leriche in Path and Observations by Johnny McMillan of Hubbard Street 2, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Andrew Wright of Hubbard Street 2 in Bonobo by HSDC dancer Penny Saunders, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Andrew Wright with Hubbard Street 2 in Bonobo by HSDC dancer Penny Saunders, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    From left: Emilie Leriche, Alicia Delgadillo and Felicia McBride of Hubbard Street 2 in Bonobo by HSDC dancer Penny Saunders, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Hubbard Street 2 dancer Johnny McMillan in Never was by HSDC resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Hubbard Street 2 dancers Johnny McMillan and Emilie Leriche in Never was by HSDC resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Alice Klock and Jason Hortin of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Untitled Landscape by Jonathan Fredrickson, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Kellie Epperheimer of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Untitled Landscape by Jonathan Fredrickson, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Kellie Epperheimer, right, with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Untitled Landscape by Jonathan Fredrickson, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Jesse Bechard with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Untitled Landscape by Jonathan Fredrickson, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Jason Hortin and Alice Klock in Untitled Landscape by Jonathan Fredrickson, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Untitled Landscape by Jonathan Fredrickson, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Kellie Epperheimer, right, with Jesse Bechard of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Untitled Landscape by Jonathan Fredrickson, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Pablo Piantino and Jessica Tong of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Recall by Robyn Mineko Williams, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Jessica Tong of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Recall by Robyn Mineko Williams, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    Pablo Piantino and Jessica Tong of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Recall by Robyn Mineko Williams, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    David Schultz of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Recall by Robyn Mineko Williams, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

  • Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

    David Schultz and Jessica Tong of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Recall by Robyn Mineko Williams, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

Felicia McBride and Nicholas Korkos of Hubbard Street 2 in Path and Observations by Johnny McMillan, at �danc(e)volve: New Works Festival�

As outlined in the current issue of TOC, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has nine short, new dances up at the MCA Stage, split into two programs of five pieces each. All except one were created in-house. Generally speaking, Program B skews edgier and more “contemporary,” whatever that word means; Program A’s dances are more traditionally composed and, overall, more refined. Each lineup repeats twice January 26–29.


What the programs have in common besides Never was, a duet by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, is seriousness. This company excels at humor, but don’t go to “danc(e)volve” looking for laughs. Only Penny Saunders’s Bonobo (Program A) and Taryn Kaschock Russell’s Facets of the Same (Program B) have any lightness of spirit. Both keep one foot out the door, darken as they go on and, paradoxically, look the saddest of all, like forced smiles. The other works extend that confident gravitas in which Hubbard is most comfortable.


Recall (Program A) shows senior member Robyn Mineko Williams’s plenary fluency in Hubbard’s style. Soundtracked by her own mix of Chromatics and Chris Menth, her sextet finds a unique voice amidst the influence of numerous masters, as well as of Israel’s Sharon Eyal, with whom Williams worked for the first time last year. Dancer David Schultz’s solo breakaway from the ensemble’s Pac-Man-style, gridded walking patterns lays the base coat for deeper investigations later, when theme actions reappear with profound adjustments. (Williams writes in a program note that it’s inspired by “the experience of memory.”) Recall features the increasingly ferocious stage presence of Jacqueline Burnett and sagacious interactions between Jessica Tong and Pablo Piantino. Costumes by Rebecca Shouse are sexy and chic.


The influence of Eyal’s mentor, Ohad Naharin, is most clearly evident in two other works on Program A, by Jonathan Fredrickson (of HSDC) and Johnny McMillan (of Hubbard Street 2). The former’s Untitled Landscape introduces its vocabulary through a solo for Jesse Bechard, a series of soft poses, demonstrated plainly. As other dancers enter and the first movement of Górecki’s third symphony builds, the dance adopts a vintage feel, reminiscent of José Limón’s There Is a Time, from 1956. Fredrickson danced for the Limón company in New York and made two pieces while there; I missed [node:14752621 link=the debut menu at Next;], but this is probably something like Achatz doing Escoffier.


McMillan’s Path and Observations may have a Dance 101 title but its construction is quite advanced, especially for a person only a week into his twenties. There’s lush engagement of the middle torso and spine, and a weightedness that makes the choreography like a crop that six dancers harvest by moving. (Autumn leaves cover the stage and cling to their socks and costumes.) This pastoral quality, its closely coupled, human scale and pockets of drama echo Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat (1983). Jardí is set to yearning Catalan songs by Maria del Mar Bonet; Path is to yearning Sami songs by Mari Boine and Pekka Lehti, plus surprisingly well-matched music by Chinese composer Liu Sola. The three dances by McMillan I’ve seen so far are fascinating and nothing alike. This is another artist to watch.


Enjoy watching him dance, too. In Never was, McMillan and the even-younger Emilie Leriche fully inhabit Cerrudo’s latest obsidian scene. Its title references the score for its second part, Handel’s “Ombra mai fu,” a love letter to a tree’s shadow. Clever as ever, Cerrudo examines the notion of shadow in multiple ways, including through unison and an impeccably timed tableau, when McMillan stands facing upstage, Leriche on the floor behind him, in his “shade.”


Program B opener …and other stories of imperfection, by Alice Klock, is another showcase for Leriche and fellow HS2 member Nicholas Korkos. Although the vocabulary is limited, it’s notable that Klock knows how and when to use stillness better than many dance makers twice her age (23). See Program B also for the festival’s longest work, at 22 minutes, The Fantastic Escape of the Little Buffalo by Brazilian guest choreographer Clébio Oliveira. Often spastic yet fastidiously arranged and directed, this piece for HS2 reflects humanity at its most base as industrial breakbeats and ominous noises attack Chopin and Doris Day. All six members of its cast commit to its challenges; Korkos is particularly fearless in his role.


Program B’s closer, thrice, choreographed for seven by company rehearsal director Terence Marling, maximizes the space but is too often predictable, telegraphing many of its familiar events in advance. Mad props to company lighting designer Matt Miller, who places each piece in its own, thoughtfully realized universe.




“danc(e)volve: New Works Festival” continues January 26–29 at the MCA Stage. See Program A on January 28 and 29, see Program B on January 26 and 27. All shows are at 7:30pm; tickets are $35, MCA members $28, students $10.



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