As a repertoire company that strives for contrast and diversity, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago aims "to give a little bit of something to everyone in the audience," according to artistic director Glenn Edgerton. "If one piece resonates strongly with someone, then that person's been touched."
This, Edgerton says, is his modus operandi in putting together a show like the one his company will be bringing to Israel later this month, when the group's 17 dancers grace the stages of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa for an eight-performance tour.
And with a collection of dance styles and music spanning the classical, rhythmic and movie-score genres, he is certain that there will be something to delight every viewer.
Indicative of the troupe's international flavor, HSDC will be performing the work of the renowned and much sought-after Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo, which had its world premiere at the beginning of October during the company's fall opening series at Chicago's Harris Theater.
"Set to the music of Felix Mendelssohn and Claudio Monteverdi, 'Bitter Suite' is really quite a dynamic dance piece with an underlying sense of symmetry," says Edgerton, speaking with The Jerusalem Post by telephone. "There is a very dry sense of humor interlaced throughout the piece, and at the same time, there's a really human aspect to it."
While the atmosphere is kept light by many quirky, fun moments, the dancing itself is technical and detailed.
The dancers will also perform "Gnawa," one of the company's signature pieces by Nacho Duato, named for the genre of its musical score. Set to a particular style of rhythmic North African drumming music interlaced with flamenco-sounding Spanish vocals, the piece has become one of the staples of the company. A powerful and sensual performance, it combines spirituality and the organic rhythm of the Mediterranean.
"It is a mix of the ethereal and the everyday," says Edgerton. "It's a group dance of very earthy movements mixed with a traditional pas de deux in the middle of the piece."
Audiences will also catch a glimpse of the sort of choreographic talent that HSDC is cultivating within its own four walls, as Alejandro Cerrudo's third piece for the company will be showcased.
The piece, "Off Screen," is "an expression of dance and entertainment - a representation of what dance would look like if it were a movie," explains Edgerton.
Based on a collage of movie music, including scores from There Will Be Blood and Pan's Labyrinth, Cerrudo presents a series of divergent vignettes that explore the cinematic world, moving back and forth between drama and comedy. With a piece of silver fabric at one point creating a backdrop movie screen, viewers may be tempted to pull out a bucket of popcorn.
Having recently been appointed HSDC's artistic director - the current season being his first official one at the helm - Edgerton looks forward to the group's visit to Israel, as he is always on the lookout for new talent.
"Israel is a breeding ground for choreographers, and I'm always hearing about the great work coming out of here," says Edgerton, who hopes to spend some time attending local performances and scouting out the dance scene.
The company, which has visited Israel only once before, will also be taking advantage of its time here to rehearse with master choreographer Ohad Naharin, the artistic director of the Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company, who has created five works to date for HSDC - "Tabula Rasa," "Minus 16," "Passomezzo," "Queens" and "Black Milk."
"The significance of us coming to Tel Aviv has become even stronger, since we can have our dancers rehearse with Ohad," says Edgerton.
The company, which will be performing "Tabula Rasa" during its December winter series in Chicago, has already started to practice the piece with in-house associate artistic director Lucas Crandall in order to optimize the dancers' time with Naharin once they arrive.
"This connection with Israel and with Ohad is really important," he says.
Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center: October 28 to 31
Jerusalem Theater: November 2 and 3
Haifa Auditorium: November 4 and 5
Price: NIS 149 to NIS 299