Points of View

Turmoil on Plazas, in Psyches, and in Your Lap

Hubbard Street's powerhouse dancers are up for just about everything. The Chicago company, founded in 1977 by Lou Conte, has evolved from its roots in Broadway jazz to a repository for seven works by Twyla Tharp to a troupe that presents dances by well-known contemporary choreographers from overseas. Jim Vincent, who took over when Conte retired, may go further in that direction, having danced with both Jirí Kylián in the Netherlands and Nacho Duato in Spain.

On one of the company's two programs at the Joyce last week, the emphasis seemed to be on couples in high tension, except in Daniel Ezralow's popular 1989 Super Straight, in which everyone's locked into the frustrations you'd expect from people who emerge from garment bags. Four couples dance out their various hang-ups in Harrison McEldowney's Group Therapy, with Joseph P. Pantaleon a knockout in an angry jazz solo aimed at his chain-smoking sweetie (Erin Derstine). The beautiful Yael Litvin Saban and Massimo Pacilli wind through Duato's rapt, tender, swirling Cor Perdut.

Mapp (foreground) and Jasperse at DTW: commandeering spectators' space
photo: Richard Termine
Mapp (foreground) and Jasperse at DTW: commandeering spectators' space

Ohad Naharin's Passomezzo, splendidly performed by Cheryl Mann and Jamy Meek, is striking for the contrast between elegant structure and highly charged images. To various versions of "Greensleeves," the two seem to be investigating how they do and don't agree—whether they're marching in straight lines, or she's plummeting into his arms or sinking into a deep plié while standing on his chest. You can almost see them thinking when she picks up his worried walk-in-a-squat theme. The movement is always meaningful, touching.

I can't quite say that about Vincent's ambitious group piece, counter/part, to excerpts from various Bach concertos and suites. Vincent is fluent to the point of loquaciousness in a style that shows Duato's influence. Elbows crook, hands flex and jab, legs slash, bodies twist—all at the same level of intensity. There's fugitive drama: Julia Wollrab is stripped, piece by piece, of her costume and somehow mated with the terrific Meek (in a red half-skirt). The dancers deserve medals.

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