Crystal Pite’s evolution as a choreographer has been driven by a proverb: “Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours.” Theater audiences want to feel represented by the performers, and Pite seeks to create that connection through dance. The three works presented in Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Winter Series are a series of experiments exploring this idea through narrative.
But those narratives aren’t set in stone. A new company of dancers means a new approach to each of these works, which debuted between 2008 and 2012. “Every time I restage a piece on a group of dancers, the works change,” Pite says. “It’s a living, breathing thing, and it wants to live and breathe through whatever body its inhabiting. I love finding out new things through new dancers. And finding out what the ideals and essentials are of what I’ve made. What things are necessary for the work to hold.”
Choreography isn’t a rigid framework for Pite. It’s a map with specific points that need to be hit, but one that still allows room for the dancers to create their own paths. “The trajectory and pathways of your body are prescribed, but you have space to approach it as an improvisation,” Pite says. “Everyone does better when they feel a sense of ownership over what they’re doing. They’re responsible for creating it in real time, and I want them to feel like they have agency and are a creative collaborator. That’s what makes it vibrate with life. Otherwise we’re just copying and something dies.”
Hubbard Street Dance Winter Series: An Evening of Crystal Pite 12/7-12/10: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri and Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Harris Theater, 215 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777, hubbardstreetdance.com, $25-$110.