Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

July 25, 2006

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Strokes Through the Tail

Photo by Todd Rosenberg , courtesy HSDC

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
The Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood, California

July 25, 2006

Reviewed by Victoria Looseleaf


Summers in the city, especially during triple-digit temperature blasts, can be oppressive. Fortunately for Los Angelenos, there is that delightful respite known as the Hollywood Bowl, a nearly 18,000-seat amphitheatre where everyone from Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire to Mikhail Baryshnikov and the Beatles has performed.

Add to that illustrious roster Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In an impressive Bowl debut, the troupe, accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by guest conductor Andrew Davis, brought unabashed joy and technical finesse to music of Bach and Mozart.

Zooming across the stage as if jet-propelled, the 20+plus dancers soared in artistic director Jim Vincent’s 2002 counter/part. The Baroque score, a Brandenburg mix and match fest, as well as hiccup-like passages from assorted preludes and bourrees, served as ear candy, albeit not always well-played, to the action: Huge leaps and unison moves from able corps dancers who also bristled with excitable arm gestures—swaying, twitchy, spidery—set the stage for two passionate soloists, Jamy Meek and Julia Wollrab.

If, that is, you like your passion rough.

Ferociously yanked around by a quintet of men, Wollrab was then hoisted up and paraded around in an Egyptian frieze-type motif. A shirtless Meek, swathed in red, skirt-like fabric, executed whiplash-inducing turns, tossing off mid-air, swoon-worthy ornamentation in the process. The dancers’ more lyrical moments bloomed during solo musical portions, performed by a cellist and harpist, respectively.

Marguerite Donlon’s 2005 work, Strokes Through the Tail, affirmed the notion that humor, thank you very much, is alive and well in concert dance. Set to the allegro movements of Mozart’s potent Symphony No 4 in G minor, the work proved a cornucopia of elastic torso machinations, including grinding hips, and a dollop of prat-falling.

Cheryl Mann swan-strutted in tulle, all bent-knee skittering and head nuzzling, with the rest of the company donning and doffing tuxedo attire and diaphanous tutus (costumes by Branimira), men included, in this Charlie Chaplin-meets-the-sylphs’ scenario. As alive as the music, this was fierce, breathing choreography that had the audience—nearly 9,000—begging for more.