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Hubbard Street’s ‘Dance(e)volve’ an engaging mixed bag

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago dancers Garrett Patrick AndersAlice Klock 'Grey Horses' by Robyn Mineko Williams. | PHOTO BY TODD ROSENBERG

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago dancers Garrett Patrick Anderson and Alice Klock in "Grey Horses" by Robyn Mineko Williams. | PHOTO BY TODD ROSENBERG

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New Works Festival


When: Through June 16

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art Theater, 220 E. Chicago

Tickets: $35

Info: (312) 397-4010;

Run time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, with one intermission

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Updated: July 9, 2013 6:08AM

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s two-weekend run of its Dance(e)volve: New Works Festival program is mostly sold out. That is a testament to both the adventurousness of the company’s audience, and the troupe’s fervent commitment to showcase the efforts of choreographers within its own ranks.

Of course if you want new works (even flawed ones) to get their very best showings, Hubbard Street’s dancers are the place to turn. They are dream interpreters.

While this year’s collection of new pieces is not as stellar or diverse as last year’s, there is still much to admire. The influence of such choreographers as Ohad Naharin, Alejandro Cerrudo and others is obvious. One way around this might be to have the choreographers find stronger story lines. Still, there are stunning moments here.

The start of HS2 dancer Andrew Wright’s “Agape” (Greek for “selfless love”) is a beauty. It begins with one agitated woman standing alone in the light. This cedes to a burst of action as individual dancers race across the stage, with one couple (the woman aloft in a stag position) adding a thrilling touch to the scene. Wright also has devised a compelling gestural language.

Artistic associate Terence Marling has devised two short works: “ditto,” a stunningly danced pair of duets with two women (Emilie Leriche and Ana Lopez, both mesmerizing) partnered by one man (Brandon Lee Ally), and ‘Stop...stop...stop,” a hilarious look at a young couple (the hugely engaging Lissa Smith and Richard Walters) who get a much-needed intervention from devilish Quinn B. Wharton.

“Adalea” is the work of Penny Saunders, the remarkable Hubbard Street dancer who just had a baby and is leaving the company. She begins her dance with four men full of attitude as they each “partner” with a chair. Jessica Tong, who has emerged as a dancer of real emotional depth, and Jacqueline Burnett, always a powerhouse, are stunning in duets with men and with each other. Another duet, fierce and acrobatic, is brilliantly danced by Jesse Bechard and Johnny McMillan. But more connects are needed between scenes.

Jonathan Fredrickson’s “For the Wandered,”about “those who feel they’ve lost their way,” is ponderous, with the dancers moving around felt sculptures in the shape of witches’ hats (more distracting than illuminating), and the use of a painful section of electronic music.

The program closes with “Grey Horses,” a deftly structured piece by former dancer Robyn Mineko Williams in which magnified shadows of the dancers appear on the stage’s bare back wall. Emilie Leriche, a lithesome, gymnastic blonde is the standout among the many fine dancers who also include Alice Klock, Garret Patrick Anderson, Fredrickson, McMillan and Walters.

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