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Hubbard Street Dance ‘Fall Series’ Review — Varied, Beguiling Works Introduce a Promising Season

By Leanne Star

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Meredith Dincolo in "Fluence" (photo by Quinn B Wharton)

Stepping across the globe with works by American, Spanish, Israeli and Swedish choreographers, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s “Fall Series” program offers up a little something for everyone, with three short pieces — two of them premieres — and a repeat of a recent work that reveals more with each retelling.


Emilie Leriche & ensemble in "Fluence" (photo by Quinn B Wharton)

First up is “Fluence,” choreographed for the troupe by former HSDC dancer Robyn Mineko Williams. The piece for five men and four women premiered in Minneapolis a week before coming home to the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance in Millennium Park for the “Fall Series.” Set to original music by Robert F. Haynes reminiscent of the score for the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” the work puts the dancers through their paces in a series of twitching, angled, robotic movements — something like being inside a space-age jukebox.Sleek costumes by fashion designer Hogan McLaughlin, who tailors threads for Lady Gaga, add to the atmosphere.


Ana Lopez & Jacqueline Burnett in "Cloudless" (photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Dancer and resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, a native of Madrid, unveils his newest work, “Cloudless,” set to music by Nils Frahm. The female pas de deux features Jacqueline Burnett and Ana Lopez executing a series of lifts and entwinements. With arms and legs extended, the two became one creature, a graceful octopus of limbs.


Kellie Epperheimer & Johnny McMilan in Passomezzo (photo by Todd Rosenberg)

“Passomezzo,” a 1989 work by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, returns to Hubbard Street, where it was first performed in 2001. “Passomezzo” is all about contrasts: a male dancer (Johnny McMillan) clad in a black outfit with S & M overtones vs. a female dancer (Kellie Epperhimer) in a light-colored flowing shift; romantic music, including the traditional “Greensleeves,” vs. crouched, scuttling movements that send the dancers across the stage like windup toys.


Ana Lopez & Alejandro Cerrudo in "Casi-Casa" (photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Returning to Hubbard Street less than a year after its first performance here less than a year ago is “Casi-Casa” (“almost home”), created by Swedish choreographer Mat Eks in 2009 for Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. With a background in film and theater, Eks excels at dramatizing the undramatic, the everyday domestic moments that form most of our experience. But don’t be fooled: what may seem like easy-to-follow storytelling relies on the loopy logic of dreams, supported by music by Swedish band Fleshquartet.


Cartoonish props — vacuum cleaners, a curvilinear chair, a sometimes smoking oven and a freestanding door that angles up into the air in one scene like a dancer en pointe — evoke a twisted domesticity and add to the accessibility of “Casi-Casa.” The goings-on include male/female duets, a group of women doing a jig with vacuum cleaners and the striking opening featuring a seated man (Quinn B Wharton) watching TV and nearly levitating out of his chair.


As always with Hubbard Street, the dancers are first-rate, leaving the mix of choreography the variable. In the case of the “Fall Series,” that choreographic mix is pleasing indeed.



Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Fall Series

Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph Dr., Chicago

Through Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013

Tickets $25–$99 at hubbardstreetdance.com

Photos: Courtesy of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Published on Oct 11, 2013

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