I had the unusual opportunity of attending Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall on the University of California Berkeley campus. The evening was comprised of works by three choreographers, Alejandro Cerrudo “Little mortal jump” (West Coast premiere), Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar “Too Beaucoup” (Bay Area premiere) and Alonzo King “Azimuth” (world premiere) performed by the two companies in concert, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (35 years old) and San Francisco’s Alonzo King LINES Ballet (30 years old).
I live in Chicago and generally see Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park. An extended stay in the Bay Area made it possible for me to enjoy this special event. My husband and I chose to begin the evening with dinner at Café Zellerbach. I made reservations for a table, which made our dining experience very pleasant. Without reservations, other patrons were unhappy about not having a table, though ordering food was no problem. We thought the food was very good.
In a sense, this evening was “the battle of the choreographers”. What I mean is the dancers are so skilled, so technically perfect in form, ensemble, timing and every aspect of their movement was so spectacular that the works were distinguished more by the choreography. Each choreographer is interested in moving dance into new territory.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and San Francisco–based Alonzo King LINES Ballet are performing together in four notable American dance venues this spring. These first-time joint presentations include the debut of “Azimuth” by LINES Ballet’s founder and director, award-winning choreographer Alonzo King, the centerpiece of the evening’s performance.
Led by artistic director Glenn Egerton, the Cal Performances evening began with the West Coast debut of HSDC’s resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s "Little mortal jump", a work created in 2012. This work was charming, continually changing and was the only work that had any scenery. The dancers move in relationship to huge objects that are at times frames and at other times, obstructions. Cerrudo says he aims to transport his audience so that he can “make them forget what they did today, and what they will do tomorrow”. Along with the varied music by Beirut, Andrew Bird, Alexandre Desplat, Philip Glass, Hans Otte, and Max Richter, this piece carried me away. The last scene, set to the music of Philip Glass was my favorite part, it was so beautiful. Lighting Design was by Michael Korsch, Set Design by Alejandro Cerrudo and Costume Design by Ranimira Ivanova were perfect support to the ten “perfect” dancers. Cerrudo, who comes from Madrid, is Hubbard Street Dance’s first and current Resident Choreographer, a title that was created specifically for him in 2009.
The centerpiece of the evening’s performance was "AZIMUTH” by Alonzo King which features 28 world-renowned dancers: all 12 members of LINES Ballet and 16 from Hubbard Street’s ensemble of 18. Lighting designs are by Axel Morgenthaler, set designs by Jim Doyle, costumes by Robert Rosenwasser and original music is by composer/musican Ben Juodvalkis.
The dance was divided into nine segments, beginning with the "Ensemble" that included the 28 dancers of the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago & Alonzo King LINES Ballet and continued through eight additional and beautiful segments. An azimuth is one of three coordinates identifying a point on a sphere, relative to its center. It is crucial to the navigation of space. In this dance the dancer is both navigator and heavenly body. King’s choreography celebrates the merging of diverse aesthetics, rather than the inherent contrasts between the two companies. It is spiritual and captivating. I don’t often see the LINES Ballet and was very impressed by the range of size and look of the dancers. All were amazingly and evenly skilled and I believe these differences added depth and richness to the performance.
The evening’s program concluded with "Too Beaucoup", choreographed in 2011 by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar and this was the West Coast Premiere. Music was by Ori Lichtik, sound track design by by Ori Lichtik, Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, Costume Design by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar with remarkable lighting by Avi Yona Bueno.
Hubbard Street is the only American dance company to present Behar and Eyal’s work premiering it in 2011 as part of its first program devoted to contemporary Israeli choreography. This piece is unique in my experience and worked very well as it combines the costumes (unisex, flesh-colored costumes, severe wigs and white contact lenses), a beat-driven soundtrack that includes Gang of Four, Vicious Pink, Depeche Mode, Ivan Pavlov (CoH), Leonard Cohen, Cole Parter, Vice, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and Oren Barzilay. As the piece begins, it is cold and mechanical and gradually moves into wildly expressive and personal interaction.
If this performance comes to a venue near you, see it.
Berkeley, CA (Feb 1 + 2, 2013)
Chicago, IL (Mar 14–17, 2013)
Madison, WI (Mar 20, 2013)
Los Angeles, CA (Jun 21–23, 2013)
For more information go to: www.hubbardstreetdance.com
In addition, the New Work is a commission by the Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, in celebration of its 10th anniversary next year. Hubbard Street — one of the Chicago venue's founding local organizations — welcomes LINES Ballet to its Spring Series and the World Premiere of the companies’ Shared Program: Hubbard Street presents Little mortal jump (2012) by Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo; LINES Ballet presents the Chicago Premiere of Alonzo King’s Rasa(2007), to an original score by tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain; and both companies present the New Work. The New Work receives its World Premiere at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, as part of Hubbard Street’s Cal Performances engagement.
This unique collaboration, billed Hubbard Street + LINES Ballet, is the sole dance and Chicago–based recipient of a 2011 Joyce Award from The Joyce Foundation. The accompanying $50,000 grant has generously supported the collaboration in-process, as did a three-week residency at the University of California, Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts, and an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The collaboration was previewed at the 2012 Laguna Dance Festival, and has received crucial funding for its tour from the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project.