Once Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has it completely assembled, the U.S. premiere of William Forsythe‘s 1993 Quintett should be an architectural wonder. But an enterprise this unusual, intricate, and intensely athletic requires painstaking preparation. At an early rehearsal, you could see the balance and control required of the dancers as they moved through perilous angles and extreme shifts of weight. Repetiteur Thomas McManus looked like a carpenter, calibrating and recalibrating two duets—measuring limbs, adjusting angles, ensuring that all the parts joined up right.
Quintett‘s emotional inflections are built from odd details; when a woman catches a man’s head in her hands, for instance, he flinches and quickly slips out of her grasp. Forsythe’s strange, unexpectedly heart-wrenching choice of music—Gavin Bryars’s 1971 “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”—centers on Bryars’s recording of an old man’s reedy singing. Two repertory works complete the program: Malditos, a dark 2010 octet by HSDC resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, and Ohad Naharin’s magnificent jumble Three To Max, which HSDC premiered last year.