Photo Courtesy of Hubbard Street Dance
The fierce and fabulous performers of dance company Hubbard Street Dance Chicago thrilled audiences with masterful dancing and inventive choreography at the Granada Theater on Oct. 25.
In contrast to the classical work of the New York City Ballet, which performed at the Granada Theater a week earlier, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is a cutting-edge contemporary company that focuses on staging innovating new dance pieces in a variety of different styles.
“I want to keep forging ahead so that we keep pushing the envelope,” said Glenn Edgerton, artistic director of the company. He added that he regularly surfs YouTube looking for promising young choreographers whom he could commission to set work on the company.
The 34-year-old company is one of the best known and most original dance companies of America. The 17 dancers of the company all have ballet background, but the repertoire of the troupe itself requires moving beyond the familiar classical form into infinitely creative and physically demanding contemporary choreography.
The performance included two dance pieces by Jirí Kylián, one of the most prominent and celebrated contemporary choreographers of all time, and a third by renowned Swedish choreographer Johan Inger.
There was humor, sensuality, inventiveness and mystery in the three vastly different but equally fascinating dance pieces, resulting in a performance that was both entertaining and thought provoking. The audience was given a precious opportunity to ponder the deeper meaning of the dance pieces while admiring the dancers’ superb skill.
“I wasn’t falling asleep,” said Brendon Chan, third-year University of California Santa Barbara dance major and hip-hop dancer. “I rarely watch professional ballet or modern performances and this is one of the few that really kept my attention- it was just cool!”
As a male dancer, Chan said he especially appreciated that the men of the company had meaningful performance parts, as opposed to simply supporting and showing off the ballerinas, as is often the case in classical ballet repertoire. Continuing the contrast to classical ballet gender roles, the company’s women exuded exuberant strength and power, which was something quite different from the ethereal elegance of the ballerina.
The dancers’ movements were expansive, clearly defined and expressive. The effort behind the movement was not evident, making it seem as though their bodies were being moved by something greater than the mechanics of human anatomy.
In addition to the thrilling dances of the artists onstage, the performance featured fantastic props such as swords, giant panels falling from the ceiling and black fancy ballroom gowns on wheels. It was most certainly an evening to remember.
For Hubbard Street Dance Chicago dancer Kellie Epperheimer, the evening was particularly special for another reason. Epperheimer, an extremely talented dancer from San Luis Obispo, saw Hubbard Street Dance Chicago perform for the first time at the Santa Barbara Granada Theater when she was 17 years old. Intensely fascinated by the company, Epperheimer realized that more than anything else she wanted to dance with this particular group. She decided to move to New York City for intense dance training, and eventually joined the company of her dreams.
“It’s kind of crazy coming back to the theater that changed my life,” said Kellie Epperheimer, at the question and answer session with the artists following the performance.
But Epperheimer and company couldn’t stay in Santa Barbara for long– the very next day they were off to Las Vegas to continue wowing lucky audiences with their rock star energy and talent.