Hubbard Street Dance’s spring series, running through March 13 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, comprises two programs running across two weeks. Program A of “RE/CONNECT,” which concluded last Sunday, was clearly about lifting spirits after a long, dark series of winters.
The evening was bracketed by new commissions, the first from Amy Hall Garner, who took inspiration from the human capacity to adapt—an apt subject for these angsty times. “As the Wind Blows” opened the show with refreshing lightness and warmth, the first image a glowing orange backdrop silhouetting the men of the company who moved in silence until a lone flute cut through the room like the break of dawn. As the lights brighten, we see the company clad in lavender trousers and mustard-colored tops performing a wide lexicon of dance vocabulary, moving from ground to air, from slicing space with extended arms to stomping out rhythmic footwork, frequently smiling as they do. These folks aren’t buffeted by winds of change but enjoying the shifting breeze. “As the Wind Blows” contains so many shifts, in fact—of movement phrasing, background colors, number of dancers on stage, one minor costume change—it’s hard to find a center to the piece. But then I suppose that’s the point: Change is constant and unpredictable. To find joy, we’ve got to go with the flow. The piece ends with the same glowing orange background silhouetting Jacqueline Burnett as she continues to dance into the sunset as the lights fade.
The next two pieces—shorter, for duet and trio—provided a nice symmetry to the program. First was Ohad Naharin’s “B/olero,” performed by Alyssa Allen and Jacqueline Burnett. Lots of choreographers have a “Bolero” and Naharin’s is one of my favorites; his dream logic directs Ravel’s repetitive march up a mountain into wonderfully strange new territory. The electronic arrangement of the score by Isao Tomita sonically travels from underwater to outer space while Allen and Burnett—rare dancers who seem able to defy physics—appear to move an arm with the speed of subatomic particles, to almost occupy two places at once, their bodies serving as timepieces and as connective tissue between the fleshly world and the irrational.
Lar Lubovitch’s “Little Rhapsodies,” a new Hubbard Street acquisition, is a frolic for three men that blithely floats on a Schumann etude—a showcase for classical technique in jeans and jazz shoes. As the title implies, the piece is elegant and fun. And the solo section shows off how company members (the night I attended, Michael Garcia and Craig D. Black Jr.) can really stick a landing.
The closer was a rousing new commission from Darrell Grand Moultrie, who took inspiration from his experience growing up in Harlem and listening to gospel, then being surrounded by classical music while studying at Julliard. The score for his “Dichotomy of a Journey” includes both, and the choreography is a celebration of the many ways human beings fill their hearts in trying times. In deep red costumes, the company danced with passion through a series of well-wrought sequences, including a solo to the song “In My Dreams” in which Andrew Murdock becomes a physical conduit for Daryl Coley’s impassioned vocal dynamics. The finale had the full company dancing to Donald Lawrence’s rousing “Encourage Yourself,” a huge choir number the dancers matched in leave-your-heart-on-the-stage commitment. After years away from indoor shows, I was encouraged, indeed.
At the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago, (312)334-7777. March 2 – 13. $15-$110. Tickets at hubbardstreetdance.com.