Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Summer Series Review – Introducing a Unique Collaboration

Stepping out of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park onto Randolph Street after seeing the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Summer Series, it was as though the “other worldly” feeling of the performance continued into the street in the city shrouded in fog.  The three numbers performed: Untouched, choreography by Aszure Barton, Following the Subtle Current Upstream, choreography by Alonzo King and 27’52”, choreographed by Jiri Kylian seemed to be similar in the abstract quality of the movements and accompanying music.

Untouched was the newest of these works, having been premiered at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance June 3, 2010.  This piece is unusual in that each dancer has a personal part in it. Barton collaborated with each dancer independently and, based on these a environment wherein the performers are individually represented but are united by a shared language. The choreography in this was complete before the music was selected so that the music is completely in service of the rhythm of the movements. The long skirted costumes by Fritz Masten, extended and embellished the movements and were beautiful.  As this work played out, the part I found most captivating was the entire ensemble moving as one.  The music was compelling and fascinating,  and was a combination of works by Njo Kong Kie, Curtis Macdonald and Ljova.


In January, Hubbard Street received a $50,000 Joyce Award from The Joyce Foundation to support a multi-year collaboration between Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Alonzo King together with LINES, the San Francisco dance company he founded.  This unprecedented partnership was launched with HSDC’s premiere of King’s Following the Subtle Current Upstream.  This work was created for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2000 and is set to music by Indian table master Zakir Hussain, South African singer Miriam Makeba and composer Miguel Frasconi.

What I found remarkable about this piece was the fluidity that was sustained through movements that were not at all fluid.  “The title ‘Following the Subtle Current Upstream’ has hundreds of levels,” says King. “The rush and clamor of the exterior world is a spectacle that draws us out of our houses.  It surges in an out direction and is dazzling, hypnotic and powerful.”  One feels nature in this work, and the fog that greeted us seemed a kind of extension of this experience.

The last number of the evening was choreographer Jiri Kylian’s 27’52”.  The world premiere of this piece was offered by Nederlands Dans Theater I on February 21, 2002 and it’s Hubbard Street Dance Chicago premiere was March 18, 2010.  The rather eerie music was by Dirk Haubrich with costume design by Joke Visser, lighting design by Kees Tjebbes and décor by Jiri Kylian and staging by Christin Gallofre Vargas and Gerald Tibbs.   The title refers to the length of the piece, 27 minutes, 52 seconds.  I share dancer Meredith Dincolo’s observation that, “There is a real physicality about the movement and the choreography, which makes it rich and grounded; and there is an abstract quality in the music, scenery and atmosphere, which transports the piece to another world. …”


Had a more classical, lyrical piece been part of this program, I might have been able to grasp these offerings more easily.  However, the energy and technical skills of the dancers and the chance to see the world from a new perspective made attending this performance very rewarding.  The opportunity to see this series is very limited so get tickets now.


Friday, May 20, 2011, Saturday. May 21, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 3:00 p.m.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Box Office-205 E. Randolph Drive
Phone: 312.850.9744 or

Photos by Todd Rosenberg

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