Hubbard + Jiří Kylián = Love (not a review)

The San Francisco Chronicle once named Jiří Kylián “one of the greatest choreographers of our age.”

Boy, those reporters sure are smart.

You know that saying that anything you could possibly do as an artist has already been done? I’m pretty sure that was Jiří Kylián, 20 years ago, doing it, and better than you. So ahead of his time was the brainchild who conceived Sarabande (1990) and Falling Angels (1989), the two company premieres on Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s all-Kylián Spring Series running this weekend at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The recently reopened Harris was buzzing with excitement as audiences pack the house for the highly anticipated series.

It’s an eclectic program, yet the work of one man. It’s edgy and hip, yet timelessly classy. For many of us, this program is a bit nostalgic. It was for me, anyway. I remember seeing Kylián’s Petit Mort at Ravinia Festival *cough* years ago, gazing up with amazement as those iconic black dressed flitted across the stage. It’s a feeling that pricked my nerve endings again, even all these years later.

Hubbard Street Dancers Jesse Bechard, left, and Meredith Dincolo in Petite Mort by Jiří Kylián. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
Hubbard Street Dancers Jesse Bechard, left, and Meredith Dincolo in
Petite Mort by Jiří Kylián. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

This isn’t going to be a review – it can’t. There’s nothing to say about Kylián, other than what has already been said: he is “one of the greatest choreographers of our age.” The audience moaned and hummed and rose to its feet more than once last night at the program opener. It’s not just Kylián, but the win-win combination of Kylián and Hubbard Street together that is so magical. The company’s exquisite execution of his intricate choreography managed to also capture something of the sarcastic  and sassy spirit underlying works that appear on the surface to be dark and depressing. It’s a formula that shouldn’t be missed, even on an overwhelmingly full weekend of dance in Chicago.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s spring series “Four Works by Jiří Kylián” runs through Sunday, March 16 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (205 E. Randolph). Friday and Saturday performances at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $25–$99, available at hubbardstreetdance.com/spring or by phone at 312-850-9744. 

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance writer and editor, focused on dance and cultural criticism in Chicago and across the Midwest. Lauren is the dance critic for the Chicago Tribune, editor of See Chicago Dance, and founder/editor of Art Intercepts, with bylines in Chicago Magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Media publications, among others. Holding degrees in dance and kinesiology, Lauren is an instructor of dance and exercise science at Loyola University Chicago.