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Friday, June 29, 2007

Delights from Hubbard Street

Posted by on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 1:19 AM

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It’s hard to find a place to start describing Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s performance last night, which, for this eclectic dance company, is proof of a job well done.

Each of their five pieces, which ranged from the classical grace of Petite Mort to the whimsical humor of Baker’s Dozen, concluded to cheering applause in Page Auditorium last night.

Hubbard Street stays on the cutting edge of modern dance by sticking to the classics. “We begin with ballet class every morning,” says artistic director Jim Vincent. “It’s ballet training with additional training to complement and contrast.”

The strict observance of traditional ballet is evident even in the aerial piece, Kiss, and the crowd-pleaser Lickety-Split, which merited applause (and laughs) mid-performance. Hubbard Street’s personality seems to thrive from deviating, sometimes in the most subtle of ways, from classical style. Baker’s Dozen, for example, challenged the boundaries of the stage, by constantly moving on and off and incorporating expressions that didn’t seem to pay attention to where it ended. Lickety-Split, on the other hand, diverged from this dainty choreography and possessed the same type of fluidity we’d expect from Iguan Dance Theater, yet without the same degree of automatism.

For the twenty dancers in the company, the range of style and technique that’s required of them is a welcome challenge. “This diverse repertoire is really what these dancers want to sink their teeth into,” says Vincent. “[It becomes] a part of their souls.”

The unexpected, quirky details in their work are what have made Hubbard Street so beloved world-wide—not only are their performances elegant and diverse; they have a quality of whimsy to them that makes them so much fun to watch.

Dancer Cheryl Mann was captivated by the company’s charm early on; she dreamed of dancing with Hubbard Street when she was just fourteen years old. Today, she’s been with them for over ten years. “The reason I love this company is the diversity,” she says. “You can wear a lot of hats; you can change who you are in each piece that you do.”

And there’s no denying that whatever hat these dancers wear, it’s sure to be beautiful.

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