HSDC On An Angle

Hubbard Street in "twice (once)" by Terence Marling. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Seven members of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) took a corner of the Harris Theater stage with select members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) for the MusicNOW series last night where HSDC Artistic Associate Terry Marling premiered his work to a score written by CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Anna Clyne.  Clyne, along with her fellow Composer-in-Residence, Mason Bates (cute!) hosted the evening that featured four other musical works by Julia Wolfe, Anthony Cheung, Aaron Jay Kernis, Lee Hyla.  Each work was previewed with a video clip of the composer discussing their process as well as an appearance on stage to answer a question or two from the hosts.  Cellist Kenneth Olsen played brilliantly in four of the five pieces and the petite Cynthia Yeh grabbed my focus with her huge sounds on percussion.  Aside from a three-year stint playing the alto sax, my musical knowledge is fairly limited (music is my brother’s milieu), so I will leave that to the experts and focus on the dance.

With general admission seating it’s always a gamble, but I lucked out and grabbed a great seat down front (not too close) and center.  When the crew rearranged the stage for the final piece, I realized the dancing would be happening on the stage left side and my vision was compromised, unfortunately, by a man with an ENORMOUS head.  Undeterred, I wiggled around and leaned on my friend until I could see the dance space clearly, although at an angle.  With no wings, the black stage walls provided a moody backdrop for the dancers wearing all white.  A door on the back wall with bright light shining in served as the entrance (and numerous exits) for the dancers.  In twice (once), Marling worked with the limited stage space by placing most of the dance on an angle coming from the open door.  The dancers worked off of that angle, replacing each other, entering/exiting through the door, disappearing into the stage left blackness to Clyne’s achingly beautiful score.  He successfully created a feeling of infinity, particularly in a moment where Kellie Epperheimer walked slowly forward on the angle while the other six dancers ran in a moving circle around her.  Another breathtaking moment was with Ana Lopez (always brilliant, her solo work mesmerizing) where Jesse Bechard and David Schultz, who replaced an injured Pablo Piantino, held her feet to the ground while she swayed and arched back like a willow in the wind (pictured above).  The sheer tulle skirts on the women added to the elegiac theme of the music (Clyne wrote it immediately after her mother’s death) and the somber, slow exit out of the door into the light by the dancers extended past the final note, again bringing to mind infinity and beyond.  I’m looking forward to seeing Marling’s choreography reconfigured for the Danc(e)vole performances at the MCA Stage in January.  His keen sense of weight shifts and musical timing shine on the HSDC dancers.


CSO’s MusicNOW w/ HSDC

Tonight at the Harris Theater, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) presents another installment of its MusicNOW series and includes a world premiere danced by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC).  twice (once), choreographed by HSDC Artistic Associate Terence “Terry” Marling is a work for seven dancers set to a piece of music composed by CSO Composer-in-Residence Anna Clyne.  Clyne wrote Within Her Arms in honor of her mother shortly after her passing.  Played by a 15-piece string ensemble, it is a departure from the acoustic and electro-acoustic sound she normally dabbles in.  Marling, who writes music himself, was immediately in love with the music.  “The music is really emotional,” says Marling.  “It was a daunting, scary start.  There’s the initial fear that music that emotional can overwhelm the choreography, so I had to draw on what I knew of that depth of emotion like the birth of my son.”

The evening also features musical works by Julia Wolfe and Aaron Jay Kernis, with Conductor Christian Macelaru making his MusicNOW debut.  This is the first time HSDC has appeared in the series, although they have collaborated with the CSO before.  Marling wanted to create a geometrically visual stage picture, so he used a combination of math and choreography to create what he calls “a fair view of infinity”.  He started working with the HSDC dancers on the piece over the summer, but with performance and touring schedules found himself short on studio time.  Luckily, he knows the dancers well and they were willing to try anything.  “The artists I work with are wonderful,” says Marling, “and I can always keep making steps.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

MusicNOW: Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Hubbard St Dance Chicago, Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph at 7 pm

Tickets are still available: $22, 312.294.3000, 800.223.7114