Hubbard Street Dance Chicago takes Newton’s law of gravity, rips it apart then gracefully glues it back together as their feet once more touch the ground. It’s no wonder that this high-energy dance troupe is internationally recognized, having established itself as one of the most successful contemporary dance companies in the U.S. After a five-year absence, the Power Center will house the group’s return in Ann Arbor tonight at 8 p.m.

In 2000, Jim Vincent brought his expertise as a dancer and choreographer to HSDC as the company’s artistic director. Taking over for Lou Conte, the group’s founder, Vincent is committed to forging relationships between HSDC and emerging choreographers, with the group’s focus not only on structure and form, but also a dance’s natural story. HSDC’s eclectic choreography has been set to the music of The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin and Beethoven, but whether humorous or haunting, they’re consistently compelling.

Thirty years of tradition, 22 dancers, 100,000 annual viewers in 19 different countries – what began as an ensemble of four women in Chicago has flourished into a vivacious international group.

Tonight’s performance consists of dances created by international choreographers who bring an ethnic twist to the group’s repertoire. The evening will open with “Lickety-Split,” a three-couple dance about the spontaneity of love explicitly created for HSDC by choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. Also on the bill is “From all sides,” created by renowned modern ballet choreographer Jorma Elo.

“Strokes Through The Tail,” a piece with touches of ballet, is moved by Mozart’s timeless Symphony No. 40. Choreographer Marguerite Donlon gives the piece a narrative quality as the dancers personify the forms of musical notes. The piece feels like a silent film as music turns the dancers to pantomiming actors with characteristics fleshed out through body movements.

As different as it is from the other styles, the power of “Gnawa,” named after a Moroccan music style, makes it more than fitting as the final dance. Dancers are carried by fast-paced Spanish and North African beats into provocative and daring movements. Its seductive rhythm moves you from reality into a mystical Sub-Saharan Africa. This piece displays exactly what the group believes in and is best at: creating a story from a unique sound and through innovative movement – and of course, all the while defying gravity.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Tonight at 8 p.m.


At the Power Center

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