Second City and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago first joined forces in October 2014 for the collaborative performance The Art of Falling, in which the comedians became dancers and the dancers became comedians. The visually stunning, seemingly effortless, and often hilarious show ran for only four days, but it was so well received that it hit the road for an LA run in November 2015. Now The Art of Falling is back in Chicago at the Harris Theater for a longer engagement.
“A lot of time and effort went into putting the show together, and it would have been a shame if it had just been four days and been put to bed,” says Jessica Tong, a Hubbard Street performer reprising her role. Much of the show will stay the same—including the story and cast—but because the performers have had more time with the material, they’re able to incorporate subtle changes.
“It’s nice because you have time to revisit things and make some modifications, whether it’s to embellish or edit,” Tong says.
Hubbard Street’s short performance schedule creates what Tong calls a hit-it-and-quit-it attitude, but this time around the dancers are able to improvise, taking a page out of Second City’s book.
“I get to watch and listen and see how the comedians are always riffing off each other and coming up with new stuff,” Tong says. “If we do a scene three or four times in a row, every time it’s done differently. It’s such a treasure trove of ideas that they come up with. I like sitting and watching and giggling to myself.”
The extra time is also helpful for the comedians. When the show first opened, they sometimes struggled to keep up with the dancers. Now, they’re comfortable with the choreography, Tong says. It’s the combination of small changes to the content and the performers’ increased confidence that will breathe new life into the old show.
“Even if people have seen it before, there are new elements and small changes to keep it current,” Tong says. “You get a pretty rounded experience of what theater is like in Chicago: creative and buzzing.”
The Art of Falling 6/9-6/19: Wed-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Harris Theatre, 205 E. Randolph, hubbardstreetdance.com, $57-$109.