While it’s always a pleasure to attend a performance by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the 2021 Fall Series, RE/TURN, the first in more than eighteen months, was an absolute pleasure. My friend Karen and I were enthralled by the grace and strength of the dancers. We both loved it! 4 Spotlights
The evening began with Jardi Tancat (Spanish for Enclosed Garden), choreographed by Nacho Duato to music by Maria del Mar Bonet. The curtain rose to reveal six dancers wearing the oranges and browns of fall, bent toward the ground. In absolute silence, they rise, wave at the sky, then fall to their knees to pray.
According to the program, the dancers are peasant farmers, “…occupied with sowing, planting and threshing.” With fluid movements, intricate patterns and frequent partner changes, the dancers pay tribute to nature. Jardi Tancat featured Jacqueline Burnett & Craig D. Black, Jr., Alyssa Allen & Kevin J. Shannon, Alysia Johnson & Andrew Murdoch,
Jermaine Maurice Spivey made his debut as a choreographer with The Seen, a structured yet impromptu medley of modern movements done to vocalizations. According to the program, The Seen asks “How do we practice observing the ways we think and pay attention, so we can better understand the why and how we respond to one another.” Throughout the piece, staccato ‘music’ created by Spivey plays in the background while dancers step up to microphones stationed about the stage and count out number combinations or bicker with each other.
The Seen features the entire HSDC company: Alyssa Allen, Alexandria Best, Craig D. Black, Jr., Jacqueline Burnett, Michele Dooley, Michael Garcia Elliot Hammans, Alysia Johnson, Adam McGaw, Andrew Murdoch, Abdiel Figueroa Reyes, David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon and Simone Stevens.
If you have light-sensitive eyes, be warned, a row of spotlights at the rear of the stage are placed low enough that they shine directly into the audience. In other words, multiple lights were shining directly into my eyes which really spoiled the piece for me.
In my opinion, the final piece, Busk, choreographed and directed by Aszure Barton, was the evening’s piece de resistance. The title, Busk, pays tribute to the relationships between the performances of street musicians or buskers and their spectators. Much of the music was gypsy-like chorales which sounded vaguely militaristic (Kung Liljekonvalje, lyrics from a Swedish poem). Some was discordant, with traffic noises added. The range of composers included Moondog, August Soderman, David Wikander and more. Busk was nothing short of magnificent!
The curtain opened on a very dark stage, where one man, wearing dark clothing that masks his identity, sits slumped on a set of steps. His movements were exaggerated, comedic, and acrobatic. Throughout the piece, that technique and intensity continued, no matter whether a single dancer or a large group.
Busk features the entire HSDC company: Alyssa Allen, Alexandria Best, Craig D. Black, Jr., Jacqueline Burnett, Michele Dooley, Michael Garcia Elliot Hammans, Alysia Johnson, Adam McGaw, Andrew Murdoch, Abdiel Figueroa Reyes, David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon and Simone Stevens.
Coming up for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago:
The Spring Series, RE/CONNECT at the Museum of Contemporary Art, March 2nd through 13th
The Summer Series, RE/UNION at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, May 12th through 15th.