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Chicagoans capture Kylian

October 17, 2003|Jennifer Fisher | Special to The Times

In choreographer Jiri Kylian's "Petite Mort," images of antique beauty and contemporary longing emerge when women, clad only in updated corsets, reach out from behind free-standing 18th century dresses to caress the gowns' severe black silk, and men gently tilt swords as if the weapons were lovers whose sharp edges they respect.

Six couples swirl around one another with rhapsodic restlessness, and the women are lifted with legs akimbo or unfolding as triumphantly as a fanfare before touching down with caressing softness. All this is danced to precise, lilting Mozart, with a giant silk scarf twice seeming to sweep the stage clean for another dream to emerge.

It's hard to top Kylian, and no one came close Wednesday night when Hubbard Street Dance Chicago opened a four-night engagement at the Irvine Barclay Theatre with works by five choreographers.

If the company's technically agile, personable dancers didn't quite have the velvet landings and seamless transitions that make "Petite Mort" the sacred rite it becomes with Kylian's home company, Nederlands Dans Theater, they still caught its contours.

A more literal evocation of love's rhapsody and uncertainty, Susan Marshall's "Kiss" had Cheryl Mann and Tobin Del Cuore suspended in harnesses that allowed them to stand, swing and sway.

They drifted decorously, lurched away from each other and spun, eventually suggesting dangling puppets or survivors of a disaster hanging from a helicopter. The effect was not soul-stirring, despite the stirring Arvo Part score.

The remaining three works took advantage of the company's sleek precision and bold attack, as the dancers whipped off dense choreography that followed the strong rhythmic structures of the varied scores. Call the style preference a kind of ultra-swift pileup of ever-shifting movement combinations.

In "Diphthong," by company member Brian Enos, the percolating songs of Zap Mama inspired slouches, flinging, thrusting and lots of wriggles that flowed through the bodies like waves of heat.

The long, clear lines of Jamy Meek emphasized by his brief black trunks and sheer black top, stood out in stylish solo moments.

Nacho Duato's duet "Cor Perdut" (Catalan for "lost heart"), seemed driven by the seductive singing of Maria del Mar Bonet. Mann and Del Cuore, released from their harnesses, circled each other and the stage with big sweeping movements embellished with elegant little gestural details, somehow producing a mild vertigo.

Trey McIntyre's playful "Full Grown Man" returned to the more fractured phrases of "Diphthong." Slightly or way too long, depending on your tolerance for the Beck ballads used as a score, it was brightened by performances from Taryn Kaschock and Christopher Tierney, who had a way of elucidating the most frantic choreography.


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine

When: Today and Saturday, 8 p.m.

Price: $35

Contact: (949) 854-4646

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