Bagpipes, a vacuum, and a wide-legged jig | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bagpipes, a vacuum, and a wide-legged jig 

A piece choreographed by Mats Ek headlines the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago winter concert

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Casi-Casa: jigs, bagpipes, and a dark heart

Casi-Casa: jigs, bagpipes, and a dark heart

Todd Rosenberg

As the son of a dancer and an actor, Swedish choreographer Mats Ek comes by his deft theatrical touch honestly. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago artistic director Glenn Edgerton has long coveted Ek's work, he says, for its "warmth and emotion." Now Edgerton has snagged the 2009 Casi-Casa ("Almost Home") for HSDC's winter concert. Alternately cozy, angry, and amusing, this 40-minute dance for 11 recalls the domesticity of Ek's Place, which Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ana Laguna performed in Chicago three years ago. A section of Casi-Casa involving a vacuum cleaner opens with bagpipe music and a woman dancing a wide-legged jig. But the piece's "dark heart," Ek has said, is a duet for a man and a woman who, shuttling between a stove and a chaise longue, battle for supremacy.

The program also includes the Harris Theater debut of Alejandro Cerrudo's 2011 Pacopepepluto, in which three men—wearing flesh-colored dance belts (i.e., glorified jock straps) and looking incongruously naked—perform to sappy Dean Martin love songs, notably, "In the Chapel in the Moonlight." Cerrudo's all-female quartet Blanco (2010) and Aszure Barton's lush Untouched (2010) complete the bill.

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