Hubbard Street Does Kylian (x 4)

Jiří Kylián repetiteur Roslyn Anderson, former dancer and rehearsal director at Nederlands Dans Theater, rehearses Petite Mort with Hubbard Street Dancers Andrew Murdock, foreground, and Jason Hortin. Photo by Quinn B Wharton.

This weekend my favorite contemporary company takes on the Czech master choreographer Jiří Kylián. In their first-ever program dedicated to one artist’s work, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents four of Kylián’s works in their Spring Series at the Harris Theater.  Two of the works – 27″52′ and Petite Mort – will be familiar to local audiences and two are Hubbard Street premieres.

Répétiteur Roslyn Anderson, former dancer and rehearsal director at Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), is no stranger to Chicago. She’s been coming here to set Kylián’s work on Hubbard St. – his work has been in their rep since 1998 – and The Joffrey Ballet for many years. In all, she sets about 16 of his works around the world and has worked with him, in one capacity or another, since the mid 70′s. “I told him I was interested to rehearse,” Anderson said from Hubbard Street’s West Loop studios. “I knew that from a young age that I wanted to rehearse.” Her first staging was Forgotten Land for San Francisco Ballet in the mid 80′s.

Joining Anderson to recreate these contemporary masterpieces are fellow “Kylián authorities” Urtzi Aranburu (staging), Dick Schuttel (sound design and effects), Joost Biegelaar (lighting) and Hubbard Street artistic director Glenn Edgerton, a former director of NDT. Stopping by the studios to catch Edgerton rehearsing the company’s men in Sarabande proved enlightening. As the artistic head of the company, you know he’s the brain behind the rep, but you don’t normally see him in action in the studio. He danced two roles in the work and gave insights to the dancers from a performer’s perspective.

Sarabande, a piece for 6 men, is about “exploring all aspects of masculinity”, said dancer Jesse Bechard. Grunting, shouting and crawling take a beautiful, human edge when set to Bach music. The all-female piece, Falling Angels, a throbbing, tight ensemble piece performed to live music by Third Coast Percussion, immediately follows providing the perfect compliment. The beautiful Petite Mort, set to Mozart, and the abstract, improv-driven 27’52″ round out the program although the works are presented chronologically backwards, a choreographic timeline in retrograde. “His work is so unique,” said Anderson. “The structure of this program, starting with the more recent and going backwards in time is just such a beautiful arc that people are going to see.”

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents their Spring Series, an All-Kylián program, at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Thursday, March 13 through Sunday, March16. Tickets are $25-$99; call 312.850.9744 or visit hubbardstreetdance.com/spring.

 

Hubbard Street Premieres Fluence (preview)

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Robyn Mineko Williams' "Fluence". Photo by Quinn B Wharton.

This Thursday, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents its Fall Series at the Harris Theater. Opening this Thursday and running through Sunday, the program features two returning works from master choreographers Mats Ek and Ohad Naharin, plus the world premiere of Alejandro Cerrudo’s Cloudless and the Chicago premiere of Robyn Mineko Williams’ new work Fluence, which premiered last month in Minneapolis, MN.

Williams received the news in August that she is the recent recipient of the 2013-2014 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award. “It’s bonkers,” she said. “I’m still shocked about it, but I’m really excited.” The grant money that goes with the award went to fund this new work for nine dancers. As a former Hubbard Street dancer, she knows the dancers well and set to work putting together a creative team. Robert (Robbie) F. Haynes composed an original score, Burke Brown provided his expertise in lighting and fashion designer Hogan McLaughlin created intricate costumes. “My creative team has been so awesome,” said Williams. “They’re all so open to anything I have to say and they’re geniuses on their own. They’re cool, laid back people. I think that’s why I stayed so calm throughout the process.”

According to Williams, the definition of fluence “is a stream of particles crossing a unit area, usually express as the number of particles per second”. Another definition references magical/mystical influence. “I thought both were apropos for the work,” she said. She was inspired by the ideas of individualism and solitude and the creative team took off from that. “We’re still learning how we collaborate,” said Williams. “We’re kind of going from our guts. It’s instinctual.”

The fact that her work is being presented along with choreographers like Ek and Naharin, not to mention her colleague Cerrudo, could make a girl nervous, but she is only grateful. “It’s cool. I feel really lucky to have this opportunity. If I’m doing anything, I’m just trying to be myself.”

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Fall Series at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St., Thursday-Sunday, Oct 10-13. Performance times vary. Tickets are $25-$99; call 312.850.9744 or visit hubbardstreetdance.com/fall.

 

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Comes Back to Chitown

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet dancers in Alejandro Cerrudo's "Last". Photo by Sharen Bradford.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (ASFB) has been busy. Earlier this year, their touring schedule took them to Moscow, Saratoga Springs, CA. and Wolf Trap. The current season, which began on Sept. 1, has already taken them to Laguna Beach, Portland, Oregon and San Diego. The tour finishes this Saturday, Oct. 5 in Chicago at the Harris Theater. Former Joffrey Ballet dancer Tom Mossbrucker brings his company back to town with a mixed repertory program featuring three contemporary choreographers.

“We’re really excited about the program we’re doing in Chicago because it’s all commissioned work,” said Mossbrucker. “It’s become one of our hallmarks, developing relationships with the choreographers instead of just seeing them one time and then never seeing them again. You develop a trust and it shows in the work. This program really highlights that.” Over Glow, “an upbeat piece that shows off the classicism of the dancers”, is the fourth work by Jorma Elo for the company. Set to Mendelssohn and Beethoven, it features an 11-minute adagio in the middle section with intimate moments that contradict Elo’s usual quick, jerky style. “It’s one of my favorite pieces in the repertory,” Mossbrucker said. “I just love it.”

The company is also working with Spanish choreographer Aayetano Soto for the fourth time. Beautiful Mistake, inspired by “the mistakes we make in our lives that sometimes turn out to be good things”, is his second commission for ASFB. His work Uneven appeared in Chicago at the Chicago Dancing Festival in 2011. “It really shows off that hard-edged side of the dancers,” Mossbrucker said. “His super-physical partnering and the articulation of that makes the dancers look like technical athletes, but with the classical lines still there.” This new work premiered in Aspen earlier this year.

The third work on the program (and the one I’m most excited about) is by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago‘s resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. Mossbrucker, who has seen and presented Cerrudo’s work many times over the last few years, is a big fan. Having danced with Hubbard Street director Glenn Edgerton at Joffrey, he asked his longtime friend if he could “borrow” his choreographer. “He [Cerrudo] has such an intuitive way of knowing what would strike an audience and how many times to introduce it, how to refer to it and to develop off of it,” said Mossbrucker. “There is always something…an image you remember when you leave the theater.” Having such a packed touring schedule meant that they would be traveling with bare bones, so there won’t be any elaborate sets or dramatic theatrics in this work this time – “just pure Alejandro”. This is also the first time Chicago has seen Cerrudo’s work presented on a company outside of Hubbard Street. “I was in the studio watching him create,” Mossbrucker said, “and there was one of those moments where I said, ‘There it is. That’s what I’ve been waiting for’.”

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St., Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25-$75; call 312.334.7777 or visit harristheaterchicago.org.

 

Hubbard Street’s Kevin Shannon Talks DanceMotion USA (Part 2)

Hubbard Street dancer Kevin Shannon with Roma children in Spain.

Some days my “job” is easy. Case in point, meeting Hubbard Street dancer Kevin Shannon on a Sunday afternoon shortly after he returned from his trip abroad with DanceMotion USA. Shannon along with fellow Hubbard Street dancers Jesse Bechard, Jacqueline Burnett, Meredith Dincolo, Kellie Epperheimer, Jason Hortin, David Schultz, Jessica Tong and their fearless leader Glenn Edgerton, lighting and tech director Matt Miller and Company Manager Ishanee DeVas traveled to North Africa and Spain as cultural ambassadors providing dance workshops and performances.

RB spoke with Shannon in March right before he left, when he talked about the DMUSA program – ie. Part 1. Once he was back in the States, we wanted to have a tapas-style picnic, but the weather did not agree with us, so we met at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. After ordering a pitcher of sangria and a couple of small plates (I ate octupus!). I said, “Ambassador Shannon, tell me everything.” For the most part, my job was done. He proceeded to tell me all about the trip including a number of dancers getting ill requiring performance adjustments, spice markets, a tannery, Moroccan tea, guys on donkey carts, crazy driving and traffic, a lovely day off in Spain and meeting new friends. Here are his stories in his own words. Hint: the word inspiring came up a lot!

First stop – Casablanca: We flew from Chicago to New York, New York to Madrid, Madrid to Casablanca. It’s a long trip. We arrived around 11 in the morning and had a little bit of a break. Everyone was jet-lagged. That evening we had a press conference with the woman from the Embassy. The next day we woke up at 7:30 to start the workshop. It was in a little neighborhood. It was still in Casablanca (the white city). They split us up in two groups and we do two workshops a day. One group was all hip hop. Nobody has any training. They come from the street. There were more men. The culture is not conducive to have women be dancers. A lot of the girls came, but wouldn’t tell their family what they were doing. They were so dedicated. We’d teach them a lot of improvisational and movement technique. What’s it mean to do points in space or to manipulate your body? We even taught ballet to them. There they have folk dancing, hip hop and b-boys. They wanted to learn something different, more contemporary, so they could incorporate it into what they do. It was so cool to see them try to figure it out. They can dance and move, but it’s a different way of thinking and moving. It was really inspiring.

We worked with a group of actors there as well. They did not have dance training at all. We pushed them to think creatively and physically in new ways. Physical dance theater…taking an object and doing exercises with it and around it without words. We worked with people in a detention facility. They were either abandoned by their family or they’d been abused or there was violence within the home where they had to leave. They had girls that were the leaders. I worked with them. To get them to be physical is very difficult. It’s not their culture. The empowerment of women is really important to see. It exists as a whole in certain ways, but it doesn’t exist outside of the home. Or being a physical woman, to dance, to move…they don’t do sports. The men do that. The men are ready to move and be physical, but the woman are more tentative and on the side afraid to do it. It was great to have empowering woman like Meredith and Jac and Kellie and Jess say, ‘no, you can do this’. By the end of the workshop, there was a huge change in their demeanor. Their faces lit up.

 

Hubbard Street and ONCI Ballet of Algeria.

On to Marrakesh: Marrakesh was very different. Marrakesh has more tourism. One of the guys asked where we should go eat and they said “McDonald’s!” The McDonald’s were packed. [It was] strange to see that Americanization of certain areas. We were staying at this beautiful hotel. It was strange to be in that Westernized place and then working with students in a studio with the floor falling apart. We had one day to walk around. We went into the spice market. I brought some spices home. I carried them around to Algeria, so when I got home and unpacked, it smelled so pungent. We went to these old French mansions. Everything is hidden behind walls. So you walk in and there’s this beautiful large space, but you don’t see it from the street. 

Next stop, Spain: Seville – that was our next journey. It was beautiful. I loved Spain. Morocco is a place to visit. Spain is a place to live. I’d like to go back. We worked with adults with Down Syndrome. It was incredible. They were dancers. The kids with Down Syndrome and the hearing-impaired children were the best students. They were so expressive with emotion. They could just go there. They were so creative and inventive. We did the same type of work. Each workshop was a little different. The place we were teaching the workshops were near this bridge and had a lot of empty spaces. Even though there are a lot of economic issues, there’s still a lot of support for programs like this. In Morocco there’s nothing. We worked with flamenco students as well. They were incredible. We taught them ‘Little Mortal [Jump]‘ and sometimes Jason would give a little jazz warm up. They were beautiful. We didn’t get to learn, but we got to watch them. We got to hear them talk about it. They’re just as skilled at what they do as we are. It’s so sexy. A lot of it is improv. They watch the teacher and just pick up what she’s doing. And, the tapas bars are amazing! Valencia is paella city. Beautiful, huge paellas.Valencia was an amazing city. Seville is more traditional, where Valencia is more progressive in the sense of there are more contemporary stores, etc. I would love to go back to Valencia.

And Algeria: And then to the chaos of Algiers. ‘Battle vans’. They were these armored vehicles that were bulletproof. That’s what we traveled in. Algiers was like Morocco, but without the tourism. You don’t see Americans. It’s a police state. They are all over. There are halts and barricades, bomb detectors. Morocco and Algiers don’t have a good relationship. Their borders are closed. In Algeria we worked with Roma children. They are like gypsy families. It was interesting. We’d worked before with the hearing-impaired children. They were so good, so focused. With the Roma children it was like herding cats. Their school is beautiful. It was in an old area that used to be a fishing community. The Roma children are a little darker than typical Spaniards and the culture is less Westernized. Flamenco music is a huge part of that culture. Their identity is music.

We did a performance together with a folkloric company ONCI [Ballet of Algeria] *. I don’t think they were expecting it to be so physical. I taught a movement improv class. They were in shock. They aren’t used to moving that much. The women do their little steps. Some are dancers, but some are more actors. We worked with them for three days. Then we found out a former president had passed away. The country went into eight days of mourning, so all of our performances were cancelled. We ended up doing a performance for the students.

Looking back: It was really inspiring to see dancers without really any training trying to do what we do and then giving us so much back. Sharing movement. It’s just dance. We didn’t have to speak the same language, but the language is dance. It’s the movement. You don’t have to have words. One of the most beautiful parts of this trip is it reminded me that what I do is so extremely important and such a gift. It is a gift to be able to share dance. Dance can be high class or for the middle class or from the streets. It transcends. For me it was very inspiring to come back here and be more inspired to do this again. Sometimes you get burned out and need to be reminded why you do what you do.

Don’t miss Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s danc(e)volve opening tomorrow night at the MCA Stage, 220 E. Chicago Ave. Most performance dates are already sold out, but tickets are still available for the matinee (3 pm) and evening (7:30 pm) performances on Sunday, June 16. 

 

 

Hubbard Street’s Kevin Shannon Talks DanceMotion USA (Part 1)

Hubbard Street dancer Kevin Shannon in Mats Ek's "Casi-Casa". Photo by Quinn B Wharton.

“I started tap dancing when I was eight, mainly because I was a little rambunctious,” he said. “I was just troublesome. I was always trying to figure out a way to get a reaction out of people and my Mom was just over it.” Hubbard Street Dance Chicago dancer Kevin Shannon, 28, told me about growing up in inner city Baltimore (the John Waters movie Pecker was filmed there) over ice cream – his brilliant idea! – his one day off after the company’s combined performances at the Harris Theater with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet before heading out on tour to Wisconsin. Before landing in Chicago in 2007, Shannon took his orneriness to the Baltimore School for the Arts and Julliard. He’s now in his sixth season with Hubbard Street.

It was his senior show at Julliard that caught the attention of Jim Vincent, Hubbard Street’s artistic director at the time, and brought him to the Midwest. “I’d auditioned in Europe and Canada, but I kind of wanted to be in the States,” Shannon said. “The rep here is so great and we get to travel. This is one of the best contemporary companies in the world, not just the States. I don’t think a lot of companies have what this company has. These dancers can do anything and do it well.” Seven of those dancers, plus fearless leader artistic director Glenn Edgerton, joined Shannon this week in an epic adventure. On Monday, they flew out on the first leg of a cultural diplomacy program sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) called DanceMotion USA (DMUSA). Now in its third year, DMUSA sends American dance companies abroad for performance, education and outreach. Hubbard Street is one of four companies chosen this year and will be visiting Morocco, Spain and Algeria.

Earlier this year, they traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Assistant Secretary of State Ann Stock and BAM Executive Producer Joe Melillo to be briefed on the trip, the regions/cities they would visit (Casablanca, Marrakesh, Valencia, Seville, Algiers and Orun) and their duties as artistic ambassadors. “I’m really excited about it,” said Shannon. “We’ll have one performance in each city and every day we’ll be doing workshops. It’s more of an outreach/teaching program. It’s a wide range of students. Some will be dance trained and I think in Spain we’ll be working with mute and deaf children.” The eight dancers – Shannon, Jesse Bechard, Jacqueline Burnett, Meredith Dincolo, Kellie Epperheimer, Jason Hortin, David Schultz and Jessica Tong – will be performing five in-house pieces from the Hubbard Street rep from dancer Jonathan Fredrickson, former dancer Robyn Mineko Williams and resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo.

While they’re away, the rest of the company is hard at work here getting ready for the upcoming Danc(e)volve performances of newly created in-house choreographic works. Not to be left out, Edgerton is having the DMUSA dancers create a work while they’re gone about the trip. Another way they’re staying connected is through social media. You can follow the dancers throughout the entire trip via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the DMUSA blog. “My hope for this program, going into it, is that when we come back, we stay connected, so we can expand our outreach,” said Shannon. “It’s really exciting. Once you do this, you’re always a cultural ambassador and will always have a connection to the State Department.” Well, Ambassador Shannon, we look forward to hearing all about the trip in Part 2 of the interview, when you get back.

Check out what’s happening on their first stop in Casablanca, Morocco – where they are right now!

 

 

 

Sneak Peek: Hubbard Street’s One Thousand Pieces

Hubbard Street dancers Ana Lopez and Garrett Anderson in front of "America Windows". Photo by Todd Rosenberg. Marc Chagall © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Yesterday morning I popped in on rehearsals at Hubbard Street for Alejandro Cerrudo’s much-anticipated new full-length work, One Thousand Pieces,  inspired by Marc Chagall’s America Windows housed at the Art Institute of Chicago. This was the first rehearsal with the mirrors covered and with the dancers getting used to new elements (which I’ve been asked not to reveal), so there was some experimentation with aspects of the movements and a lot of starting/stopping as is necessary in a cleaning rehearsal. With that in mind, what I saw was a company fresh, focused and on the verge of something big.

Preparing for next week’s world premiere celebrating the company’s 35th anniversary at the Harris Theater (Oct. 18 – 21) is a collaborative effort engaging all Hubbard Street dancers – main company and HS2 – with all artistic staff hands on deck. Hubbard Street rehearsal director Terry Marling, HS2 director Taryn Kaschock Russell and dancer Penny Saunders (who is expecting a baby – congrats Penny and Pablo!) take turns running rehearsals and helping Cerrudo mold his new masterpiece.

The little bits I saw – and, frankly I wanted to stay and watch all day – were enough to make me believe this work will be something spectacular. Here’s a little glimpse into the process filmed by HMS Media:

Hubbard Street Inside the Studio: One Thousand Pieces

 

 

Thoughts on HSDC’s Summer Series 2012

In a word:  brilliant.  The dancers, the dancing, the choreography, the curation – all of it.  Hubbard Street Dance Chicago‘s (HSDC) Summer Series opened last night at the Harris Theater with a three-work program that solidified the company as an elite group of dancers at the top of their field.  Breaking new ground as the first U.S. company to perform William Forsythe’s Quintett, HSDC proved (again) they have the chops to tackle anything.  HSDC resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s cross-company collaboration with HSDC and Nederlands Dans Theatre Malditos and Batsheva Dance Company artistic director Ohad Naharin’s 2011 mash-up of previous works THREE TO MAX bookended Forysythe’s piece for a full, lush, well-rounded evening.

Malditos is a study in shadows.  Dark lighting is a tool Cerrudo uses often, but never with as great effect as in this work.  The dancers slip in and out of the darkness like ghosts appearing and disappearing at the edges of your mind.  The score from the film The Beat That My Heart Skipped by Alexandre Desplat beautifully compliments his    choreography.  The end, where an almost naked Ana Lopez dances duets with three interchangeable men, is breathtaking.  The dancing continues as the lights fade out and back in as a different partner joins her.  Each partner touches her with the top of his head, but she reacts differently to each touch eventually taking over and touching one back with her head before they melt to the ground together as the lights fade.  The duets throughout are stunning displays of love and trust studded with architectural partnering and razor-like technique.  Cerrudo holds his own next to master choreographers Forsythe and Naharin.

The performance of Quintett was transformational.  What these five dancers (Meredith Dincolo, Penny Saunders, Jonathan Fredrickson, Jesse Bechard and Kevin Shannon) created on stage was extraordinary.  They are always good, but this was something truly special.  A looped score of a homeless man singing “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” created a base canvas for the movement to take life.  The repetition let you focus on the relationship of the five characters.  Simple ballet moves like a tendu devant or a double pirouette seemed to take on new meaning.  The piece was created in 1993 in collaboration with five of Forsythe’s dancers.  Three of the original cast – Dana Caspersen, Stephen Galloway and Thomas McManus – worked with the HSDC dancers to set the work over the past few weeks.  The connection, emotion and energy of the dancers was palpable.  Bechard, a strong presence in all three pieces on the program, at times simply defied gravity.  One quiet moment as Saunders rested her head on Bechard’s back for a couple of seconds let the audience catch their breath before being sucked back in to the wonderful whirlwind happening on stage.

Naharin’s piece has the dancers clad in simple jeans and colorful tank and tees. Dressed as civilians, the dancers seemed stripped down to their bare essence.  They were open, honest, subtle, sensual, vulnerable.  Human.  The rich movement sections captured their talents and personalities.  At one point a dancer looks at his hands and then extends them to the audience, giving us what’s there as if saying “here, this is who I am”.  The counting section (where the dancers ascribe a movement to a number as a voice counts to ten, adding new movements each time the counting starts over) and a partially improvised follow-the-leader sections are stand outs.

Three shows remain in the Summer Series.  I highly recommend it.

For ticket information:  hubbardstreet.com, call 312.850.9744 or visit the Harris Theater box office at 205 E. Randolph. 

Robyn Leaving The Nest

Robyn Mineko Williams. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

This weekend Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) presents its Summer Series at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (May 31-June 3).  The three-piece program concludes another stellar season for the group and sets the bar high for next season, their 35th.   Another conclusion this weekend is the tenure with the company of dancer Robyn Mineko Williams.  The matinee on Sunday, June 3rd will be her last Chicago performance with HSDC.  (She will dance with them this summer at the American Dance Festival – June 29-30 and on tour in Aspen, CO. – July 6-7.)  The three-piece, mixed program includes HSDC Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s cross-company collaboration with Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) Malditos, the U.S. premiere of William Forsythe‘s lush, emotional Quintett and Ohad Naharin‘s choreographic mash-up THREE TO MAX.  Williams, always a stand out in Naharin’s works, will dance this final piece for her HSDC finale.  ”She’s done a lot of Ohad’s work.  It’s kind of her forte,” says HSDC Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton.  ”Robyn is a fantastic force of nature in everything she does.  I might start crying…I love her.  She’s a special lady.”  The feeling is mutual.  Williams tears up multiple times talking about leaving Edgerton and the dancers she adores.  Anyone witnessing her dance feels like they know her.  She’s a friend, a sister, a lover.  She dances with open, honest, heartfelt grace.  Her eyes sparkle with a sly, wickedness that intrigues, making you want to know all her secrets.

On this Memorial Day, along with celebrating those who serve our country and those who have sacrificed their lives serving, RB gives tribute  to Williams who has  danced in the Chicago-area her entire life, first in Lombard, as a scholarship student at Lou Conte Dance Studio, for four years with River North Dance Chicago and as a HSDC company member since 2000.  ”I’ve been here forever,” she says from the company’s West Loop studios.  ”This was my 12th season.  It’s been awesome.  When you’re dancing with the company so full-time, it’s all-encompassing.  I feel like I’m ready to take on new challenges.”  When asked what she’s going to to next, before answering, she shrugs and giggles.  ”I know I want to stay in the dance realm and I want to keep choreographing.  I’d love to perform still, just at a different intensity level.”  Her choreography will keep her connected to HSDC.  HS2 continues to perform Harold and the Purple Crayon:  A Dance Adventure, which she co-created with HSDC Rehearsal Director Terry Marling,  and they may be adding Recall, her piece from last season’s danc(e)volve to their rep.

RB sat down with Williams early one morning before company class.

What was the reaction when you told everyone?

Oh…(tears), I’m choked up just thinking about leaving the people.  Every week Glenn asks if I”m sure this is really what I want to do, so I have to be strong in my decision.  I adore him so much.  These small opportunities I’ve had over the last few years with “Harold’”, danc(e)volve and the Art Institute, I’ve realized that I love the challenges of making new things and collaborating with different artists in different mediums.  That’s something I’d love to be able to do more of.  It’s difficult when you’re in a company.

Are there artists you’d like to work with?

Aszure (Barton).  I’d love to work with her again.  I’ve gone to a couple of auditions…trying to put my feelers out.  It’s such a shockingly different world for me.  It’s such a different way of thinking.  I still love dance and I’m not ready to leave it.  I’m ready to see what else is out there and work on collaborations.  I feel like I’m being a little naive and risky taking this leap, but one day it all focused in for me and I thought “this is right”.  I’m open to change.  I’m hoping something comes my way.

You know, they’re auditioning for Disney princesses down the hall today.

Hmm…maybe I should break out my 16 bars.

What were some of your favorite pieces at HSDC?

“Minus 16″, because I grew up with that piece.  It’s the piece that’s in me the most – that I know the most.  I got to do it with so many different people.

Did Ohad come set it on you?

Yes, that’s why it has a special place.  Ohad and Mari (Kajiwara) came.  They were here for about a month and it was this intense workshop process.  It was the first big thing I did with the company.  It was really a game-changer for me.  

What else?

I loved doing “Passomezzo” (Naharin).  I felt like that was a chance that was given to me to hold some ground.  ”Walking Mad” (Johan Inger), “Gimme” (Lucas Crandall), “Lickety-Split” (Cerrudo).  These pieces are some of the pieces where I felt like someone was giving me a chance.  Jorma Elo (“From All Sides”, “Bitter Suite”), he really played a pivotal role for me in the way I approached movement.  His words, though sometimes few are very softly spoken, resonated strongly and allowed me to perceive and explore in ways I never had before.  Super cool experience.

Can you tell me a little something about each of the directors you’ve worked with at HSDC?  Something they taught you…

Lou (Conte)…I worked with him, technically, for like a month, but I grew up with him.  He taught me to be strong.  You have to have a certain level of confidence in yourself to be successful.  Jim (Vincent), in a similar vein, had the ability to make your attributes work for you, especially in your frame of dance.  Take advantage of what you have and explore those qualities, because that’s what makes you special.  Glenn…I’m not crying…he’s taught me so much.  He instilled such trust…(crying)…

So, your last show…

Chicago, then ADF and Aspen.  I think Aspen will be my last show.  My Mom will be there.  They’re doing “Harold”, so the second company will be there.  I’m excited about the Chicago show.  I have the opportunity to go out doing something I’m proud of and that represents what I do.  I’m excited.  I hope I don’t get too crazy and fall off the stage.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Summer Series, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Dr., Thursday, May 31 – Sunday, June 3.  Tickets are $25-$94.  Call 312.850.9744 or visit www.hubbardstreetdance.com.

Hubbard St to open 35th Anniversary Season with World Premiere

Hubbard St's Alejandro Cerrudo speaking at the Art Institute of Chicago in front of Marc Chagall's "America Windows".

Chicago’s own Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) hits the 35-year mark next fall.  At a press conference this morning at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), HSDC Executive Director Jason Palmquist, Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton, along with AIC’s Associate Director of Performance Programs Mary Sue Glosser told a small gaggle of press about the exciting collaboration that will open the anniversary season next fall.  HSDC Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, a rising international choreographic star, will create the company’s first evening-length work on a central theme inspired by Marc Chagall‘s permanent exhibit, America Windows.  Glosser talking about the seven-year partnership with HSDC says, “seeing works of art come to life in their choreography…is a joy beyond measure”.

Chagall’s stained glass masterpiece imbeds themes of music, painting, literature, architecture, theater and dance in a royal and cerulean blue swirl celebrating freedom of expression.  The work made to commemorate the Bicentennial was given to the City of Chicago in 1977, the same year Lou Conte started HSDC, in honor of the memory Mayor Richard J. Daley.  In turn, this new work will be given to the City of Chicago in honor of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his commitment to making Chicago “a worldwide destination for dance”.  Commissioner for the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Michelle Boone accepted the honor on the Mayor’s behalf joking that everyone knows he’s “crazy about dance”.  Edgerton took the mic telling us how all the connections came together to make this “a monumental season”.

Cerrudo’s new piece, set to music by Philip Glass, will premiere during the company’s fall series at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, October 18 – 21, 2012.  The shy Spaniard took the opportunity say how grateful he was for the honor of creating this new work “in honor of the city that has become my home” and declared it a big challenge.  Taking inspiration from Chagall, he will take the “magic, colors and emotions” from the windows to create a non-literal interpretation focusing on how all the pieces and people (dancers) come together.  He suggested a working title of “A Thousand Pieces” for the full-company piece.

The rest of the 35th Anniversary season will be announced later. Subscription tickets go on sale in May.

Chicago’s Got It Goin’ On

No one needs to tell me how fantastic the Chicago dance community is, however, some of our top peeps are getting recognized for their fabulousness!

Congrats to Glenn Edgerton, Artistic Director at Hubbard Street, for being named a Chicago Tribune “Chicagoan of the Year” by the astute Sid Smith.

Props go to Ana Lopez (Hubbard Street), Carrie Hanson (The Seldoms) and Gustave Ramirez Sansano (Luna Negra) for making Dance Magazine‘s “25 To Watch” for 2012.  In the same issue, check out a great piece on dance unions – Sweating the Small Stuff -  by Time Out Chicago dance editor Zac Whittenburg.