Hubbard Street Dance Transforms Stage
December 16, 2010 Last Saturday was a great night. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performed at the Adrienne Arsht Center to a full and captivated audience. The opening piece “Tabula Rasa” — hit the button on Miami expectations and offered a landscape of movement and feeling so beautiful and captivating you could hear the silence of held breath and engorged eyes. The lighting was mystical, as dancers emerged from the darkness like ancestors guiding the living. Their forward motion and emergence moved out of the legs and into the heart in such a silent and powerful expression it reminded me of falling in love and losing it simultaneously. There was a palpable connection between the dancers, and deep within the abstraction of the choreography lived clarity and emotion. I loved when they shifted formations and duos and trios escaped into poignant and physical storytelling. Even outside of these specified and narrative outbursts, the dancers would look across at one another, seeing each other through the exquisite music of Arvo Part. Ohad Naharinâ’s choreography offered a second section where the dancers moved sideways across the stage, slowly shifting their weight in unison like a pendulum. It was clear we would be watching this for a while, but it only increased in captivation. As the chorus line grew in length and scientific precision, the audience was schooled in eastern practices of patience and self mastery — it was a transference of energy from the guru. Once the lesson was learned, elements of surprise were brought in with humor (as happened throughout the piece). I can’t say when or how, but when it ended I missed it. It was like reading the last few pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude. I wanted to stay there. My heart felt full. The other piece I enjoyed was “Blanco” — by resident choreographer and company member Alejandro Cerrudo. It took the audience on an interesting journey, as a quartet of women flowed in and out of the front stage and across, in intuitive, spiraling, and interactive choreographic moments. The piece created pleasurable tableaus and sequences, and communicated a distinct and unordinary femininity. Unfortunately, the evening ended with gunshots and jerky staccato experimentation. I felt like I was watching a Bauhaus dance performance outside the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris circa 1990. The piece held all of the technique and innovation Hubbard gave us throughout the evening, but devoid of the emotion. The musical score didn’t help with the industrial and gunshot sounds bringing the Pompidou to South Central. While this choreography didn’t resonate like the others, the Hubbard habit of developing in-house choreographers and bringing in world-class names provides a perfect mix and variety of artistic voices and energies with unparalleled technical mastery. The evening ended at a Berber Tent in an undisclosed Kendall location for the annual holiday party given by Joharah. Joharah only has one name, like Cher and Madonna. She is the long-time importer of all things bellydance and if you are lucky enough to receive her handwritten invitation by snail mail, you can enter this pop-up tent covered in Egyptian heyameyas, tall and brightly colored wall fabrics primarily used to celebrate the Prophet Mohamed’s birthday. The floors were covered in rich handmade carpets and the circumference bordered with plush Moroccan seating and embroidered pillows. The Arabic DJ took a break when musician and composer Mostafa Makki took out his Oud and local bellydance royalty Jihan Jamal performed for the crowd with an improvisational solo to Oum Kalthoum’s classic “Inta Omri.” After she transformed the room with her mastery, the DJ changed the vibe by playing “Sweet Home Alabama.” After some confusion with this choice, we got in a circle, shimmied, air-guitared and sang along in unison. A real Miami night. Originally published in the SunPost in December 2010.