Nevada Ballet Theatre and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago joined forces for a concert of counterpoints on Oct. 29 and 30 at Paris Las Vegas. The companies, directed by James Canfield and Glenn Edgerton, respectively, offset each other nicely in classical and contemporary works and the house was commendably full for Halloween weekend.
The stage at Paris played host to dichotomous pieces: NBT began the show with George Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco,” appropriately styled with a sparse stage and stark white costumes. Hubbard Street’s “Too Beaucoup” comprised what Canfield and Edgerton both called an antithesis, captivating in its contemporary isolations and deep, black stage. (If you’re paying attention, yes, the floor was switched — twice, from white marley to black and back again. The wait for each was less than ideal but certainly acceptable given the circumstances.)
The juxtaposition was nice. NBT did well with Balanchine’s choreography; the unforgivably symmetrical staging was well executed and the dancers were musically in tune enough to do well by Mr. B. The natural dynamism of the piece glimmered through, although a touch more personality from individual dancers would have been the cherry on top. Demetria Schioldager, a creature of elastic arabesques, partnered well with Grigori Arakelyan and added some quiet composure to the busy number. It wasn’t all graceful extensions, though, as a number of choreographed slides added an element of Balanchinian derring-do.
Hubbard Street’s “Too Beaucoup” was, as the name implies, nearly too much indeed. Choreographers Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar set some fantastic movement to music by Ori Lichtik and the effect was other-worldly. Watching the piece was something akin to staring at a double-jointed dancer cracked out on caffeine moving in ridiculous ways with a strobe-light in the background.
The quality of movement was foreign and intriguing, with the odd quad pirouette or split layout thrown in for kicks. The visual cacophony, designed to explore the nature of individuals functioning within a larger system, seemed to warrant a quiet rest and a sip of water for mentally overstretched audience members. Kylian’s artistic statement was well established, although the piece probably could have ended 10 minutes earlier and had just as much impact. The audience response, however, was explosive.
“Petit Mort,” another Hubbard work choreographed by Jiri Kylian of Nederlands Dans Theater, was a beautiful step in a more classical direction. The piece was full of attenuated limbs and twining partnering, hoop skirts, kinetic physicality and swords. The fencing foils even served as impromptu dance partners and added, forgive me, an edge. The movement was enthralling, punctuated by the snick of swords, and comical in turn. There is something quite funny, after all, in a dancer that suddenly zips out from behind the free-standing hoop skirt and bodice you thought she was wearing.
NBT’s “Cinq Gnossiennes” was a poignant meditation on the nature of relationships set to Erik Satie’s nuanced piano accompaniment, performed by Carol Rich. Canfield’s contemporary choreography melded well with the company’s classical technique and the mesh allowed a broader spectrum of emotion to sift through. The lighting accentuated this, shifting with each movement but maintaining the core theme. It was a lovely and affecting set to watch.
“Up,” NBT’s suite of variations to different renditions of Rodgers and Hart’s “Blue Moon,” served as a sweet, if somewhat anticlimactic, finale. The mood swung from cute and pink to blue and jazzy to whimsical, exuberant and sexy. It’s difficult not to appreciate the creativity spawned from a single motif, although audiences without a predilection for the tune might be out of luck.
Despite the nearly three-hour running time, “Dance Dance Dance!” was a lively and varied program. Classical ballet and Chicago jazz mixed well at the hands of Canfield and Edgerton, partners in crime whose shennanigans date back to their days in the Joffrey company together. This amiable relationship was obvious throughout the show. Perhaps, a year from now, Hubbard Street and NBT will be bumping elbows in Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center.