After a dazzling return to live performance at the Harris Theater last autumn, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is presenting two programs over two weeks at the Museum of Contemporary Art this March. RE/CONNECT features world premieres by Amy Hall Garner and Darrell Grand Moultrie alongside older works by Lar Lubovitch, Ohad Naharin, and Nacho Duato, as well as a repeat of the fall premiere by Jermaine Maurice Spivey, The Seen. From March 2 to March 6, Program A, with works by Garner, Moultrie, Lubovitch, and Naharin, demonstrated fine form though little variation throughout. Altogether the works were technically demanding and created within an upright vocabulary of precision, shape, and straightforward musicality, reminiscent of Ailey’s distinctive energy, delivered with Hubbard Street’s signature crispness. The overall vibe was a touch retro, the newer works in complete harmony with the older ones on the bill.
Through 3/13: Thu 3/10 7:30 PM, Fri-Sat 3/11-3/12, 8 PM, Sun 3/13, 3 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-334-7777, hubbardstreetdance.com, $15-$110. The final weekend features Program B, which includes Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat, Jermaine Maurice Spivey’s The Seen, and Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Dichotomy of a Journey.
Garner’s As The Wind Blows begins with dancers in silhouette against a dramatic wash of orange and blue—a desert sky, a dusk, a candy-colored, expanding and vibrating Rothko. An unseen force passes through the space, billowing out bodies like assertive sails, no hesitation, no flutter. The dancers are efficiently costumed in contrasting shirts and trousers, human forms. A brief segment alludes to West African dance, but overall the work is in the lineage of a balletic modern aesthetic with jazz tones for a strong ensemble.
In Naharin’s B/olero (2006), dancers Alyssa Allen and Jacqueline Burnett, dressed in matching asymmetrical black shifts on a darkened stage, are clockwork twins on slightly off-kilter metronomes to a modified (and mercifully shortened) electronic arrangement by Isao Tomita of Ravel’s Bolero. The familiar tune and the synth distortions to it create an uncanny experience: one body or two? One rhythm or two? Robots or flesh? Real time and space or the Matrix?
Lubovitch’s 2007 Little Rhapsodies is a bright contrast to the previous work, a trio (Craig D. Black Jr., Michael Garcia, and Adam McGaw on March 5) in jeans, clean white shirts, and clean white shoes. The dancing, like the shoes, is clean, clean, clean, from the little heel-clicks to the canons—quick, balletic, musical, and playfully quirky throughout, to Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, light and refined as champagne.
Moultrie’s epic Dichotomy of a Journey closes the evening with a salute to gospel in seven sections. Opening with silhouettes that echo the imagery of the first piece in the program, this time with red light on the scrim, the work proceeds through ensemble work interspersed with solos and a duet. On March 5, Andrew Murdock’s solo (“Vision”) was particularly striking—plaintive, yearning, and vulnerable.