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DANCE REVIEW : Hubbard Street Troupe Presents Jazzy Tharp Piece

February 10, 1996|CHRIS PASLES

At last a Twyla Tharp work in which Hubbard Street Dance Chicago doesn't have to compete with ghosts of companies past. Tharp created "I Remember Clifford"--presented in a "preview performance" Thursday at the Irvine Barclay Theatre--for this troupe, with which she has a special relationship. The dancers looked natural and sensational in it.

Unfortunately, the special relationship includes prohibiting taking pictures of her works. So words will have to suffice.

Thematically and, typically, choreographically complex, "I Remember" moves from goofy social outsider jokes through a harrowing revivalist ritual to an integration of the rejected individual into a community.

At times, the piece, set to six jazz standards, evokes Tharp's own "Nine Sinatra Songs," then Paul Taylor's "Speaking in Tongues." At the end, one thinks maybe it should be called "I Remember Baryshnikov."

Ron De Jesus was the virtuosic outsider, spastic and precisely out of sync in a touching Jerry Lewis kind of way at the start, even more affecting as a sacrificial victim later and ultimately lyrical and commanding at the close.

But the whole company looked great, which wasn't quite the case with Tharp's "Baker's Dozen," also on the program.

Here, the dancers were conscientious and worked hard, but they weren't quite right. The center of balance remained too high in the body, and they did not have the languid ease, momentum and plasticity of Tharp's original dancers.

Completing the program was Daniel Ezralow's episodic, show-offy "Read My Hips," a last-minute substitution for Mauricio Wainrot's "Perpetuum Mobile," which, according to a theater spokesperson, company director Lou Conte felt couldn't be staged properly in time.

* Hubbard Street Dance Chicago offers a different program, including works by Tharp and Kevin O'Day, tonight at 8 and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. $22-$28. (714) 854-4646. The company will dance works by Tharp and Ezralow on Feb. 23 at Pepperdine University in Malibu (sold out). (310) 456-2522.

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