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 or by phone at 312-850-9744. 

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance dance critic, contributing to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. She is senior editor of See Chicago Dance. Lauren covers dance across the Midwest and writes regularly for Dance Magazine and Pointe with additional bylines in Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Teacher. Forthcoming publications include essays on ballet training in Chicago (University of Illinois Press) and Shirley Mordine (University of Akron Press). In 2020, Lauren published an opinion piece on the impact of COVID-19 on the arts in the South African journal Agenda. Lauren holds degrees in dance and kinesiology and has presented research on dance training practices at the National Dance Education Organization and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. She has co-facilitated critical dance writing intensives in Chicago and Durban, South Africa, and participated in writing residencies at the National Center for Choreography, Bates Dance Festival and JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. Lauren teaches dance history and kinesiology for dancers, with part-time appointments at Loyola University Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University.