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Whenever Hubbard Street Dance Chicago tours, critics in other cities and countries rave about what they consider to be Chicago-style dance. Hubbard Street dancers make demanding choreography seem easy in the same way Michael Jordan makes a slam dunk look easy. These dancers are exhilaratingly athletic: their leaps are high, their footwork fast, and their partnering graceful. At times Hubbard Street’s performances seem almost too technically perfect, and the dancers become bionic men and women rather than mere humans expressing an idea or emotion through movement. But in the Chicago premiere of Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, as well as in their other Tharp dances, a genuine passion shines through. Nine Sinatra Songs, set to Sinatra standards like “Strangers in the Night,” “Somethin’ Stupid,” and, of course, “My Way,” delicately traces the progression of love relationships. It expresses a tender romance that seems to have died with the advent of rock and roll. The dancing is as smooth as Old Blue Eyes himself and will touch the heart of even the most jaded cynic. For its 15th anniversary, Hubbard Street is pulling out all the stops, presenting 17 different dances by eight choreographers over the next two weeks (Nine Sinatra Songs is on the program April 28, April 30, May 1, and May 8). Performances are Wednesday at 7; next Friday and Saturday, April 30 and May 1, at 8; next Sunday, May 2, at 3; Wednesday, May 5, at 7; Friday and Saturday, May 7 and 8, at 8; and Sunday, May 9, at 3 at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker; $15-$33. Special senior performance Tuesday, May 4, at 2; $5-$8. Call 902-1500 for tickets.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ted Kirk.