Hubbard Street Dance Chicago brings its magic to Victoria

ON STAGE

What: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Where: Royal Theatre
When: Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $29-$99 from rmts.bc.ca or dancevictoria.com, by phone at 250-386-6121 or in person at the Royal McPherson box office

Glenn Edgerton will be with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago when the company stops in Victoria for two performances this weekend. That’s noteworthy.

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Not every boss chooses to join dancers on the road, given the immense amount of work that awaits them once they return to the office. But the company’s artistic director feels being along for the ride is an important show of support.

“I always travel with the company,” Edgerton said from Chicago. “I don’t know how directors manage their companies without being with them on the road. Setting the esthetic and setting all the pieces for a performance, I don’t know how that happens if you’re not there. There’s a hundred different nuances that we’re assessing, trying to keep the work to the essence and foundation of what it should be.”

The program Edgerton and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will present at the Royal Theatre, starting Friday, highlights the work of three choreographers, including two duets (A Picture of You Falling and The Other You) by Victoria native Crystal Pite. Edgerton was previously director of the Nederlands Dans Theater in The Hague, Netherlands, where Pite is an associate choreographer, and has known Pite for years.

“She’s a rock star around the world,” Edgerton, formerly a lead dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, said of Pite.

“The emotion, and the uniqueness in her movement quality and the profound humanity that is evoked in the work, I find riveting.”

Pite’s choreography will be joined by two pieces (Lickety Split and PACOPEPEPLUTO) from Alejandro Cerrudo, along with Cloudline by Robyn Mineko Williams.

Cerrudo and Williams have long associations with Edgerton, who took the reins of Hubbard Street in 2009. The choreographers have risen through the ranks after starting out as Hubbard Street dancers.

“That is the rewarding part of this position, not only with choreographers, but also dancers who come from our summer programs to become vital members of the company.”

Edgerton started the company’s famous summer intensives during his first year with Hubbard, as a way of moulding dancers between the ages of nine and 24. They have the option of taking five programs offered from June through August, with a summer-closing national tour priming the students for bigger and better things.

“To see dancers move on to choreography and have a career, where Hubbard Street was a catalyst, it’s amazing,” Edgerton said.

Hubbard Street also has a public school program that brings dance into classrooms on a daily basis (between 20 and 25 schools in Chicago participate, Edgerton said), and runs rehabilitative programs for dancers with Parkinson’s disease and autism.

Edgerton wants Hubbard Street, which has been operating for 41 years, to be seen as an innovator, an outfit that evokes humanity and “brings joy and comfort and thoughts and ideas and inspiration” to people through performance. “That’s my goal. To have someone say: ‘That performance was so profound — it really changed my thought process and thinking,’ my job is done.”

Edgerton doesn’t want to stop there. He wants the company to compete with the biggest tourist attractions in the Windy City.

“If you come to Chicago, I want it to be on your list of must-have things to do, like a museum.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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