Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Sadler's Wells, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Arrive late: that's my recommendation if you feel you want to see Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at Sadler's Wells or Brighton. Half an hour's delay (or if you choose the shorter matinee programme which wisely omits the opening work) will enable you to miss "counter/part", comprising 27 minutes of absolute twaddle. You thus avoid condoning the way it insults Bach by playing bits of Brandenburgs and paying them no attention. Apart from that I don't know what is its worst feature – the amazingly negligible steps arranged by the company's artistic director Jim Vincent; the lack of any intelligible structure; or the "additional sound design" by Kilroy G Kundalini and unintelligible "text and voice" by Massimo Pacilli.

You can relieve boredom by trying to work out what the guy in red represents or why nobody murdered the girl in the shower. Unfortunately, I can't recommend closing your eyes and listening to the music: the mix is weird and the recording is not good enough.

There follow three 10-minute revue sketches, all a bit cute but not bad of their kind. "The Envelope" is a joke about a letter that takes charge of the people trying to deliver it (London Festival Ballet did it a few ago).

Music by Rossini keeps things speeding on their way, and David Parsons' contrasting choreography suits the disparate heights and physiques of Hubbard Street's dancers.

Friends liked Harrison McEldowney's "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" better than I did for the sake of little Jamy Meek's charm as the boy put upon by his girlfriend to three songs by Mose Allison, Sammy Kahn and the Gershwins – I was put off by the chatter all through two of the numbers. Trey McIntire's "Split" was full of lively entries for its six dancers but curiously combined aggression and ingratiation under the influence of Art Blakey's recorded drumming.

You would never mistake Daniel Ezralow's "Read my Hips" for anything but a closing ballet. In 20 minutes it manages to leave not a cliché unformed: the relentless jigging for the start, the pretended fight, the dazzling lamps and the overhead spotlights, the constant jumping about by the whole cast at the end. But it is all proficiently done, except perhaps that the monosyllabic interjections in Michel Colombier's score grow tiresome, and his sequence that sounds like very long, very loud indigestion got a perhaps unintentional laugh.

Bringing a programme all by American choreographers was welcome, rather than the over-used international names we see too much of; and provided that you don't expect too much, the show – or at least its latter part – is moderately entertaining. This, I would guess, is a company that would look more at home in Sadler's Wells' sister theatre the Peacock with its populist policies.

Tonight and tomorrow, Brighton Dome (01273 709709)

Comments