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Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Joins SLSO Feb. 17-19


Hubbard Street dancers Kevin Shannon and Ana Lopez in “As Few As 3000” by Alejandro Cerrudo. photo by Todd Rosenberg (click for larger version)
February 15, 2012
What troupe of dancers wouldn't dream of shaping moves with a full symphony orchestra onstage at their backs? That lucky and deserving company is Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC), taking the stage at Powell Hall with the world-renowned St. Louis Symphony.

The concert series, Feb. 17-19, celebrates the synergy of live music and dance. It features the acclaimed music of Bach, Corelli, Scarlatti, Mozart, Martinu and more under the baton of conductor David Robertson. Hubbard Street's resident composer Anna Clyne offers new music for a piece debuting here called "twice (once)." The series is jointly sponsored by Dance St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony.

The concerts begin Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. then continue on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.

A sold-out series of concerts by the same pairing in 2009 propelled this encore collaboration.

Hubbard Street's dancers have always been striking performers with huge audience appeal. From the group's exuberant tap and jazz origins, Chicago's Lou Conte, director for 23 years, built the repertoire to include the international star power of modern dance choreographers like Twyla Tharp and Nacho Duato, as well as contemporary ballets by Jiri Kylian.

Since 2009, artistic director Glenn Edgerton has continued the company's rise to fame. He is a former dancer with the Joffrey Ballet (coming in March to St. Louis) and the Dutch company Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). He directed NDT for 10 years prior to joining HSDC. Under his leadership, works have been commissioned by contemporary masters, such as William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin and Aszure Barton.

The highly trained and versatile dancers hail from across the U.S. with some from Europe and South America. They'll be performing the 10 movements of Arcangelo to a music collage by Arcangelo Corelli and Domenico Scarlatti. The choreography is by dancer and resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo.

Edgerton says "the spiritually-minded work" explores the "polar opposition" of reaching from the depths below "toward the future."

One piece set to Martinu's "Toccata E Due Canzoni" features two dance segments separated by a music interlude. Edgerton said he has enjoyed the distinction of working with St. Louis Symphony musicians and David Robertson, whose enthusiasm "boosts the excitement" of their efforts.

"To dance with musicians of this caliber at your back is so enriching; it adds to the dance, bringing the dancers even more alive than normal," he said.

The collaboration is fascinating, with "dancers talking music to the musicians and musicians discussing movement with the dancers," said Edgerton. "It's fun and adds another entire dimension."

In 2000, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago began such performances with the Chicago Symphony, and the success spurred the contact with the St. Louis Symphony. Having dancers onstage with the musicians "is a beautiful visual," said Edgerton. Those 2009 concerts featured the music of Bach, Bernstein, and Britten. Jim Vincent, the company director at the time, choreographed as well as the famed modern experimenter Daniel Ezralow.

A dancer with HSDC since 2005, Cerrudo was born in Madrid and became resident choreographer in 2009. He hails from Stuttgart Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. He can be seen in his own work during these concerts.

Composer Clyne's music for the new dance, "twice (once)," is a tribute to her mother, with the music titled "Within Her Arms." The choreography is by rehearsal director Terence Marling and has only been performed once in Chicago last December.

Tickets will go fast. They range from $25 to $113 and are available at the STL Symphony box office by calling 534-1700, or online at www.stlsymphony.org.

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