Hubbard Street Dance creates an immersive experience for dancers and viewers

| September 22, 2017 | Comments (0)

IMG_7378I should have worn pants. It was the first thing I thought as we entered the last performance space. In addition to rows of chairs, there were big cushions on the floor. As soon as I saw those, I wanted to sit on the floor for the final dance. It seemed like the perfect way to end a performance called “an immersive, interactive journey through the Harris Theater.”

Space in Perspective opened Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Fall Series with a unique set of directions. The audience would interact with the dancers, who performed in unusual spaces. It took the audience a few minutes to warm up to the Space in Perspective concept, which came down to “follow the dancers.” Once everyone understood what was happening, the audience started moving freely from space to space.

The audience, limited to 400 people, moved from the lobby to a hallway to a loading dock. Dancers performed in each space to a rotating audience. The multiple performance areas required a large company.  Space in Perspective included the 16 Hubbard Street Dance Chicago company members and 16 Hubbard Street Professional Program dancers. The audience marveled at how all 32 were able to stay completely focused, even as the audience wandered in and out of the performance spaces.

The interactive nature of the evening created some interesting moments. While we watched a back stage hallway performance, an audience member walked over to the vending machines to get a beverage. Given that we were near the dressing rooms, the vending machines were probably meant for the performers and theater crew. During Space in Perspective, the vending machine was just another prop. The audience member then stood in the performance area drinking his beverage before moving to the next performance space. It was a crazy, yet fitting, moment that really brought to life part of the Fall Series press release.

Guest choreographer and creative director Peter Chu said, “It will be a sophisticated, yet playful, journey that evokes the viewer’s spatial perception while encouraging them to explore different space concepts and their internal expressions. The viewers are also invited to actively participate in the sharing and making aspects of the installation evening.” I’d bet that when he thought of ways that the audience would be making aspects of the installation, Chu wasn’t thinking that someone would stand against a vending machine drinking a beverage.

After watching performances throughout the Harris Theater, dancers directed the audience to what was initially called, “an intimate space.” In this space there were chairs and large cushions. The audience settled into the space to watch the last half of Space in Perspective. A large black screen showed different scenes as the dancers began the final act. It wasn’t long before the audience realized they were on the main stage. Our perspectives had changed because we were not sitting in the audience looking at the stage. We were sitting on the stage. The black screen blocked the main theater seats, creating a new performance area.

Space in Perspective ended with the audience standing on the stage looking out at the seats we would normally have occupied. As we walked off stage and up the theater steps, everyone talked about their favorite Space in Perspective moment. It took the audience a few minutes at the beginning to understand the concept, but once they allowed themselves to become part of the performance, it became a truly unique evening.

Space in Perspective runs through Sunday, September 24 at the Harris Theater in Chicago. Tickets are available at www.hubbardstreetdance.com or by visiting the Harris Theater box office. This is a show you’ll talk about for a long time. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this truly immersive and interactive journey.

 

Shari writes about life with twins at Two Times the Fun. Image courtesy of Todd Rosenberg for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

 

Disclosure:  I did receive media passes to attend the show. My words and opinions are my own.

 

 

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About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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