danc(e)volve 2017 Review - Hubbard Street Dance New Works Festival at the MCA

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presented it’s annual New Works Festival, “danc(e)volve” on May 10-14, 2017 at the Museum of contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. The program as a whole, crafted by 4 Chicago-based choreographers, 3 of whom have danced with Hubbard Street, was a demonstration of strength and graceful energy with a stimulating, contemporary feeling.

Hubbard Street Dancers Andrew Murdock and Elliot Hammans in "Cadence" by Julia Rhoads; photo by Todd Rosenberg


First on the Edlis Neeson stage was the world premiere of “Cadence”, choreography and sound score by Julia Rhoades of Lucky Plush Productions, with movement developed in collaboration with the dancers. Performing this highly witty and eclectic dance were Michael Rodriguez Cintra courtesy of Lucky Plush along with Hubbard Street Dancers Jacqueline Burnett, Alicia Delgadillo, Kellie Epperheimer, Michael Gross, Elliot Hammans, Jason Hortin, Adrienne Lipson, Andrew Murdock, David Schultz and Jessica Tong. The piece begins before the audience is fully aware; the casually clad dancers are on the stage warming up. Eventually, the dancers’ own vocalizing, half-chanting and counting begins, set off by an accordion player, a strolling troubadour, who ultimately joins the dance in remarkably improvisational seeming group vs. solo sequencing. One and then another are lifted overhead; in a fun-filled line dance they sit on a non-existent log. Somehow the piece seems unfinished despite it’s clever playfulness.


Hubbard Street Dancers David Schultz and Jaqueline Burnett in "Berceuse" by Penny Saunders; photo by Todd Rosenberg


Next up was the main stage debut of “Berceuse”, choreographed by Penny Saunders, created for and premiered by Hubbard Street Dance, 2011. This lovely balletic duet, lyrically danced by Jacqueline Burnett and David Schultz, set to music from the opera “Jocelyn”, 1888, by French composer Benjamin Godard, was described as “tightly interconnected partnering, mutual observation and fluid unison”. It featured a very special couple that made their partnership an intimate glimpse of classical love and longing.


Hubbard Street Dancers Elliot Hammans, Michael Gross and David Schultz in "Clan(device)" by Alice Klock; photo by Todd Rosenberg

Third on the bill was “Clan (device)”, the second creation for Hubbard Street’s New Works Festival by Alice Klock. It has been called “an exploration of the idea that we as people are far greater than we can imagine and that the inescapable trials of life can be overcome”. Featuring Emilie Leriche, Andrew Murdock, Michael Gross, Elliot Hammans, and David Schultz, this piece first premiered in Germany in November 2016 by members of Hubbard Street 2; as performed here, it is a main stage debut.  Music by Loess, Apparat and Yasume create sounds like roaring wind, which segues into percussive rhythms with whispers behind the beat. A lone man paces the stage; several members run around the perimeter; different groupings dance together in ways reminiscent of momentous relationships and specifically, of kinship. The cross stage lightning-like shards of light by Julie E. Ballard formed a very effective setting for the emotional intensity of the piece.


Hubbard Street Dancers Jessica Tong and Jason Hortin in "Cloudline" by Robyn Mineko Williams; photo by Todd Rosenberg


Finally, Hubbard Street presented Robyn Mineko Williams’ “Cloudline”, which featured Jacqueline Burnett, Emilie Leriche, Jessica Tong, Michael Gross, Elliot Hammans, Jason Hortin and Andrew Murdock clad in casual yet striking costumes by Branimira Ivanova. The dance begins and ends with a large drift of pale grey floating enveloping silk. This device serves to free and capture the dancers as it undulates briefly across the stage. In between, there are episodes of stylized walking, broad and sweeping modernized jazz hand and arm movements, and daring lifts. The piece as presented provides a lot of visual imagery, and of course, technical virtuosity. The dancers join up, switch partners, and develop an arresting duet strategically enacted to the strains of shifting moody music including “The End of the World” by Julie London. The end ultimately leaves a sole woman by herself amid the cloud-like silk.


 For information and tickets to all the fine performances of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, go to the Hubbardstreet website


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