Dance is somewhat of a challenge for me to understand. I lack the proper vocabulary and background knowledge to truly and accurately describe what I see performed in front of me. That said I thoroughly enjoyed Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s amazing performance of, One Thousand Pieces. I will do my best to tell you why.
First off, it’s beyond beautiful. The dancers move with such grace and precision – I sort of made up this game to try and see if I could see someone’s knee twitch or foot slip out of place, but I never caught any slip-ups. Every move was deliberate and precise. They would rush to complete a phrase then slow to a gentle glide across the sleek dance floor. It was spectacular. Their performance also featured a mist curtain, hanging as a billowy and ever-changing backdrop to their movements. The scene change with the mist curtain also left the stage littered with water droplets, in which the dancers continued to glide and float on stage to the rhythms of Phillip Glass’s music. The sound of the water could reach me in the balcony. I was even able to make out sparkling droplets of water dancing through the air as the artists flipped their arms in the mist.
This dance performance was not a story ballet or anything – the aim, as defined by Hubbard’s first resident choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo, was to show how images are shaped and distorted through stained glass. Why stained glass? The choreography was inspired by Marc Chagall’s America Windows, as seen on display at the Chicago Art Institute. The props were simplistic but did include a few mirrors, tilted this or that way. It was also cool to watch the dancers when the lighting adjusted to show a vibrant reflection in the floor beneath their spinning bodies. So many of their movements seemed to me to be in a singular plane, moving within some sort of field of restraint. When I would glance at the dancers’ reflections in the mirrors or the floor, their movements seemed flattened and more distant – as if I were watching the performance through a window. It was unlike anything I’d seen before. It gave a whole new dimension to the work for sure.
Hubbard Street is an amazing company and worthy of all the praise they receive. Bravo to the dancers and thanks to UMS for bringing this fabulous company to our Ann Arbor stages.