Hubbard Street Dance Chicago graced Wolf Trap with just one performance, Monday evening. One could wish for an extended engagement, as the concert was simply superb. HSDC is a ballet-jazz-modern fusion group that is loaded with fine dancers, all of whom grasp Artistic Director Lou Conte's underlying vision. The program notes cite a rave review from Fred Astaire; indeed, much about this suave and polished troupe brings the old master to mind.
"Rassemblement," by Nacho Duato, evoked revolutionary fervor among idealistic young peasants. Long skirts and formalized gestures recalled Martha Graham. Lizard-quick athletic combinations, often in tight unison, brought the piece firmly into the '90s.
In "Group Therapy" ("A Chorus Line" for neurotics), four couples delivered smashing comic tributes to their hang-ups. One woman, in the midst of a demanding soft-shoe duet, still managed to smoke on the sly, to the tune of "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me."
"To Have and to Hold" was an exquisite modern duet, danced by Jennita Russo and Joseph Prescetto. The modal soundtrack by Guy Klucevsek helped give this loving pas de deux an ineffable hard edge, belying the overt tenderness saturating the whole.
The last two pieces were both broad spoofs on ballet. "The Envelope," an extended sight gag tracing the absurd peregrinations of said object, featured dancers dressed as Frank Zappa, had he been a monk. Never has Rossini seemed such a perfect comic foil. And "Sechs Tanze," choreographed by Jiri Kylian, was even madder. Eight dancers in 17th-century underwear and heavily powdered wigs contrived to artfully butcher every venerable balletic convention imaginable.