Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
'counter/part,' 'Cor Perdut,' 'No More Play,' and 'Minus 16'
by S. E. Arnold
August 20-24, 2003 -- Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob's Pillow, MA
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
closed the ten-week season at Jacob’s Pillow with a celebration of dance
that verified the art form’s thoughtful as well as its kinetic power.
This observation prompted
one’s notion that form, structure, and other features of construction
are tools rather than blueprints. For example, if structure demanded a
certain outcome, then the instance of the pas form in "Cor Perdut,"
danced by Yael Levitin Saban and Massimo Pacilli, might have delivered
the growing promise of commitment such as found in the grand pas of "Sleeping
Beauty." Instead, rapturous and dream-like qualities such as found
in "Spectra de La Rose" or Tatiana’s dream pas with Onegin airily
followed upon "Cor Perdut." Such differences in outcome celebrate,
even if they cannot directly argue for, the idea that form, structure,
or construction alone guarantee no particular effect.
And, perhaps the long held
angular and weighted poses serve as a visual analogue to Webern’s dynamic
silences. And as if it were a board game, the dancers move within the
bounds of ever dissolving blocks of light. Given its formal or rule guided
look and references, "No More Play" suggests that humans and
human relationships are indeed a by-product of construction. Moreover,
its ending offers a vision that suggests that life is a game, and then
you die. For example, released from the bounds of space and prior rules,
the dancers now in line abreast and in unison approach stage front. They
sit with their backs to the audience and gently fall back into darkness.
As the music informs the choreography
of "counter/part," so the choreography informs the public world
of counter, as well as the private world of part, and thus by double example
illustrates the public furnishing of private spaces idea. The sense one
makes of the female character’s encounter with the male in red depends
in some measure, then, on the value one puts on the idea of self- creating
activity or agency. If the female character, for example, is publicly
furnished (provided tools) rather than constructed (blueprinted), "counter/part"
retells "Errand into the Maze." If she is publicly constructed
rather than furnished, "counter/part" retells "The Rite
As a dance work that celebrates agency, "Minus 16" plays the shape-shifting personal against the shape-casting political. Political here refers to the work’s public aspects, such as its well-made structures, its use of popular dance music, and the black Magritte looking business suits worn by all the dancers. The contrast is seen in the dream episode of its pre-beginning, its dancers shedding their public identities (their costumes), its broadcast of the dancer’s personal stories, its spontaneous eruptions of improvisational moments, and by the grand surprise of its apotheosis. To the song Judy Garland minted into common currency, the twenty-one members of the cast invite twenty-one members of the audience (literally plucking them from their seats) to join them in the dance. As a triumph of self-creating activity, "Minus 16" offered those invited onto the stage an opportunity to exercise that activity as an impromptu member of Hubbard Street Dance. Dreams can come true, “Somewhere over the Pillow.”
Edited by Lori Ibay
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