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One piece of inspiration. One choreographer. One full-length, majestic work. The ones referenced – Marc Chagall’s stained glass “America Windows,” Hubbard Street choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, and the resulting, arresting oeuvre “One Thousand Pieces,” – create a varied, magnificent 90-minute experience in the Hubbard Street Winter Series.
Like a single band of light twisted and contorted by stained glass, “One Thousand Pieces” begins with a single dancer and expands to incorporate the entire company and the Hubbard Street 2 ensemble. Along the journey, a variety of combinations appear – in number, gender, and genre. During one powerful ensemble moment – and there are many – the entire 20+ dancer ensemble stands in a line at the lip of the stage. In mesh black clothing, their combined physical potential radiates from the stage. They don’t move. The pause is arresting. Suddenly, there’s a sinking chest, then a bending leg; the smallest movements are amplified twenty-fold by the ensemble, like Chagall’s tiny brushstrokes amplified by years of display. An equally stimulating visual is achieved with a smaller group of dancers and a reflective substance other than glass: water. A layer of water covers the stage after intermission, accentuating and lubricating the movements of the dancers upon it. Creating strings of beaded water and audible splashing, the dancers’ movements feel like a painter’s brushstrokes.
“One Thousand Pieces” is profoundly modern, taking the disciplines of the past – classical music, stained glass, ballet – and recasting them in a new, contemporary light. With the music of Philip Glass and the inspiration of Chagall’s stained glass windows, Cerrudo deftly situations himself among the titans of modernism. His “Cloudless,” a female duet which appeared in the Hubbard fall series, used low-hung stage lights to create shadows and an awareness of the piece as performance. That self-awareness appears in “One Thousand Pieces” as well, as the ensemble pauses and breathes and stares into the spectators. These key meta moments never distract from the beauty of his choreography; they allude to the importance of internal reflection when we encounter things of beauty.