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Hubbard Street Dance Performs An All-Kylián Program For Spring

By Michelle Meywes Kopeny in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 12, 2014 3:40PM

Hubbard Street Dancers Jessica Tong and Jesse Bechard in Petite Mort. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

This weekend Hubbard Street Dance presents their first ever all-Kylián program featuring four works from the Czech-born choreographer. Jiří Kylián is something of a modern day legend of contemporary dance. He spent the majority of his career with the Nederlands Dans Theater as artistic director, and has created 98 ballets to date, 74 of them for NDT. His works take conventional ballet movements and seemingly turn them inside out with choreography that can be unusual, but always breathtaking.

The four works Hubbard Street has chosen come from the latter portion of Kylián’s career, beginning in 1989. Falling Angels, the oldest piece on the program, is one of his famed “black and white” ballets set to a completely percussive score by Steve Reich (which local group Third Coast Percussion will be performing live). This tense piece is performed by a cast of only women, in contrast to Sarabande, another of the six “black and white” ballets, which features an all male ensemble. The men perform shirtless showing off their masculine power as well as vulnerability. The two pieces, both company premieres, also contrast musically as Sarabande is set to a classical violin score from Bach.

The company will also be reviving two Kylián favorites for the spring program. Petit Mort, or “small death” (which is also a French euphemism for orgasm), was written for the second centenary of Mozart’s death in 1991 and elicits a Romantic era, complete with swords and battle imagery. 27’ 52”, named for the length of the piece, comes from Kylián’s more recent period following his tenure as NDT’s artistic director.

Every single one of these pieces show off the strength of the dancers, but they also demonstrate the strength and desire of human emotion. “The Kylián experience” as Nigel Lythgoe called it while he was recently in town, is one of astounding acumen and physical prowess that is also incredibly moving.

Hubbard Street’s Spring Series opens this Thursday, March 13, and runs only through Sunday. Check their website for showtimes. Tickets are $25-$99. All performances take place at Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph).