Hubbard Street Dance Chicago | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

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Three of the four premieres in Hubbard Street's spring engagement are set to pop songs, perhaps a return to the company's roots: it first achieved recognition with founder Lou Conte's jitterbug piece The 40s. Christopher Bruce's witty 1991 Rooster is a time trip set to eight early Rolling Stones numbers. Their rendition of the blues classic "Little Red Rooster" opens the piece, offering Bruce (who joined England's Ballet Rambert as a dancer in 1963) the opportunity to stylize and codify Mick Jagger's patented cock-of-the-walk strut: it reappears throughout as a sort of metaphor for the narcissism and blind confidence of the early 60s (or of youth). Bruce also has fun with the mock courtliness of "Lady Jane," the arch melodrama of "Paint It Black," and the class warfare of "Play With Fire." One of the funniest sections is set to "Ruby Tuesday," perhaps the most Beatlesque of Stones songs. Primarily a solo for a woman, the dance at first hits all the flower-child cliches. But it gets interesting when four men march onstage single file, looking for all the world like the Fab Four in the crosswalk on the cover of Abbey Road; by the end they're doing a jaunty vaudeville kick off the stage. The MTV-ish Diphthong, by company member Brian Enos, doesn't fare so well: it largely ignores the funkiness of the Zap Mama songs it's set to. The dancing is too stiff to accommodate the nuances in the music, and though repeatedly hunched shoulders and backs turned on the audience suggest an attempt to relax, they only communicate a lack of energy. I wasn't able to see the third premiere with a pop score--Trey McIntyre's Full Grown Man, set to Beck. The fourth premiere, Susan Marshall's 1987 Kiss, is a romantic duet performed on cables to Arvo Part: the dancers swing from the flies, a gimmick that proves a dynamite way to increase their ballon. Repertory works round out the three programs. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 800-882-4275, 312-850-9744 for groups of 15 or more. Opens Tuesday, March 9, 7:30 PM. Through March 28: see listing for details. Most performances are $20-$72, but a gala Friday, March 12, at 6:30 PM is $500-$1,000. Call 312-850-9744 for information on benefits and special events.

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

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