stg: interview with hubbard street artistic director

Glenn Edgerton
(photo from HSDC website)

Although he’s just a few months into his tenure as artistic director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and he’s on tour with the company (they performed in Denver on Tuesday, and are here in Seattle on Friday…see posting below), Glenn Edgerton took some time to answer a few questions for SeattleDances.

SeattleDances: Can you tell me about the dancers of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago? (Articles so often focus on a work or a choreographer; I haven’t seen much written about your dancers’ qualities.) Besides their versatility and dedication, how would you describe their special (group or individual) qualities?
Glenn Edgerton:
Our dancers are amazing. They are physically talented and adept to changing styles from one choreographer to the next, but what I truly thrill about them is their open-mindedness. They have a great sense of creativity that lends itself to a richer experience with a choreographer.

SD: What do you think will be some of the legacies of former artistic director Jim Vincent, who I understand left Hubbard Street earlier this year?
GE: Jim’s time with HSDC has been one of setting up collaborations. He secured an ongoing connection with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and, as well, we currently having a residency with Art Institute of Chicago. A few years ago the company worked with the Illinois Institute of Technology. These kinds of projects make the company uniquely innovative.

SD: Did he share any of his hopes for the company with you? If so, what were they and can you agree with them?
GE: Jim was very generous in handing over the company to me and he did not stipulate any hopes, but more importantly I feel grateful he put his trust in me to carry it forward.

SD: What are some of your own goals or visions for the company?
GE: The making of new work is imperative. Through new creations, the dancers develop their skill of collaborating with choreographers, which enhances their performance experience by having a part of them built into the work. This aspect to the company will continue as a mission of mine, as will continuing and cultivating collaborations for further unique projects. I also am adamant to bring the finest experience imaginable to the dancers so that the process of preparing works is inspiring. To put my overall vision in a few words: I want to make Hubbard Street the most innovative and exciting dance company in the world.

SD: Will you bring anything with you from your time performing at the Joffrey Ballet?
GE: I bring with me the enthusiasm and the creative spirit to inspire dancers and audiences and also for finding new choreographers. Mr. Joffrey was legendary [for his ability] to present choreographers before they were made famous, for example Twyla Tharp and Bill Forsythe to name just two. I believe I bring the creative sensibility that I learned from Mr. Joffrey over my eleven year span with them.

SD: How about from your time at Nederlands Dans Theater [where he danced for five years and served as artistic director for 10 years]?
GE: I had the great fortune to work closely with Jirí Kylián; he taught me so many things it is hard to pinpoint, but perhaps the level of imagery that enriches any work is an important factor to mention. That fundamental base of presenting a work through imagery brings a whole other level of emotion to a performance.

SD: Can you apply anything you might have learned directing the Colburn Dance Institute in LA [2006–2008]?
GE: I learned the business aspect to dance much more with the Colburn School than I did anywhere else. Because we were building a program from its infancy stage, it was a worthwhile experience. My time with the Colburn helps tremendously, since Hubbard Street has the Lou Conte Dance Studio and an extensive education program which is all part of our institution.

Alejandro Cerrudo
(photo from HSDC website)

SD:
Alejandro Cerrudo, your resident choreographer, choreographed “Lickety-Split,” which we’ll be seeing in Seattle. Can you tell us what you like about this piece in particular and about Cerrudo’s work in general?

GE: I’m continually impressed with Alejandro’s work. The warmth that is evoked in “Lickety Split” is very special. I also appreciate that all three works that he has choreographed for the company have a completely different atmosphere. Each one is unique in itself which makes it clear to me that Alejandro will have quite a prolific career as a choreographer.

SD: Jorma Elo just choreographed “Bitter Suite” on Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. His work is new to many of us in Seattle. What will we see in “Bitter Suite” that identifies it as a Jorma Elo piece? And, what do you like about this piece?
GE: Jorma’s background is evident to me in his works and is also obvious to me with “Bitter Suite.” He was a dancer for the Finnish National Ballet, Cullberg Ballet, and Netherlands Dance Theater. Consequently, the profiles of these three companies are diverse and you see all of these elements in his work. You have a mix of fierce ballet technique together with modern movements and a profound sense of humanity as well. I like this work for all those reasons but it also has a very dry sense of humor underlying the piece.

SD: What kind of words would you want to hear in an audience poll after a touring show?
GE: That was amazing. I never knew dance could be so powerful, beautiful and emotionally riveting.