Hubbard St Tops Itself Once Again

Jonathan Fredrickson and Penny Saunders in "THREE TO MAX". Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Last night at the Harris Theater, Hubbard Street not only offered a ground-breaking program, they created a tectonic plate shift in the floor of Chicago dance.  Presenting a HSDC premiere by Ohad Naharin and a world premiere by Sharon Eyal and Gaï Behar, the critically-acclaimed troupe demonstratively proved why they are the best.  Go. See. This. Show.

Naharin’s THREE TO MAX opened the show.  Clad in capri jeans and tank tops, the dancers showed their unique talents and personalities in what structurally seemed like a bizarre game of follow-the-leader.  Beginning with beautiful solo work by Benjamin Wardell, the piece wove together sections of individual improv (the before-mentioned follow-the-leader style), sensory-connected unison work (a sensual and strong female grouping) and an impressive add-on counting section where the soundtrack featured a man counting to ten in (I assume) Hebrew and the dancers ascribing a movement to each number, then adding on and starting over with new movement and adding on and on.  It seemed more mentally challenging for the dancers than physically.  Some of it worked for me – like a lovely moment in a duet with Penny Saunders and HSDC newcomer Jonathan Fredrickson (pictured above), and some didn’t – a strange tango-flavored male duet.  It definitely had a more free and fun vibe than their most recent Naharin piece, Tabula Rasa.

Dancer Jacqueline Burnett featured in "Too Beaucoup". Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Aside from Wardell, the night belonged to the ladies.  Stands outs include Robyn Mineko Williams in Naharin’s piece, Jacqueline Burnett in Eyal’s Too Beaucoup, and Jessica Tong in both.  Eyal and Behar’s artistic partnership (along with DJ Ori Lichtik and, of course, the HSDC dancers) has created something amazingly unique.  With futuristic costumes of white seemingly painted on unitards, white make up, white wigs and white contacts, you lost sense of who was who and instead got lost in the energy of the movement and the music.  I frequently found myself smiling and shaking my head in awe of what was happening on the stage.  Notes from the program:  Too Beaucoup aims to manipulate and replicate precise and robotic movement that offers a sense of watching a 3-D video.   It felt like you were watching a human configuration of an extremely complex math equation.  I don’t like math, but I loved this.  You could almost feel the connection between the dancers.  As dancer Christian Broomhall put it, “We are all operating as one organism.”  And they were physically, mentally, aurally and spatially.  It was so freaking cool.

The company, joined by Eyal and Behar, received a long and robust round of applause at the final curtain and a partial (Seriously people, what will it take for you to get up out of your seats?) standing ovation.  And yes, I was included in the ones standing and cheering.  A huge congratulations to Glenn & Co!

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