Hubbard Street plans work about Chagall windows

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will celebrate its 35th anniversary this fall with its first-ever full-length production, an original work by resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, inspired by another local treasure, Marc Chagall's "America Windows."

The commission links multiple arts, different eras and two major Chicago cultural institutions. Tentatively titled "A Thousand Pieces," the full-company work will be the 11th dance for Hubbard by Spanish-born Cerrudo, 31, who is also one of the troupe's dancers. Chagall created his richly colored series for the Art Institute of Chicago to celebrate America's Bicentennial. The six panels were installed there in 1977, the year Hubbard began, dedicated by Chagall to Mayor Richard J. Daley for his support of the arts, just as Hubbard will dedicate Cerrudo's work to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, celebrated dance enthusiast.

Cerrudo says his first venture into the long form will be an echo of the windows, not a narrative about them.

"It won't be a literal work, but about their energy, their light, their emotions, their magic," Cerrudo said. "What they inspire in those who view them, certainly what they inspire in me."

Hubbard officials and others announced details of the project Tuesday at a briefing in front of the windows, which hang in the east end of the Art Institute's Arthur Rubloff building. Hubbard artistic director Glenn Edgerton says the idea of the piece began while researching other cultural events in 1977. Hubbard staffers noticed the date of the Chagall windows while working at the Art Institute as part of a joint project there dating back several years.

"What's most exciting is all these connections," Edgerton said. "Each panel has a different concept, representing a different art or theme, such as freedom, music and dance. There's a sense of collaboration to them, and that's what Hubbard is, vast numbers of people coming together to make this institution work." That interdependence is reflected in the windows and their numerous, irregularly shaped panes. "No one has been able to tell me exactly how many pieces there are, but it's close to a thousand by my count," Cerrudo said.

"I'm terribly excited and so proud of the fact that Hubbard Street is still going," founder Lou Conte, now retired, said in a phone interview. "I'm a big fan of Alejandro's, and I can't wait to see what he does with a full-length. It's quite a chomp to bite off."

The work, to be set to the music of Philip Glass, will premiere, possibly with some live accompaniment, Oct. 18-21 at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, where Cerrudo's 10th work, "Little mortal jump," premieres in March.

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