The Art of Falling: Hubbard Street Dance and Second City's Comic Liaisons

October 18, 2014 11:42 PM

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Early on in the ingenious collaboration between Second City and Hubbard Street Dance, Procol Harum's counterculture hymn permeates Chicago's Harris Theater as actors and dancers assemble in rows of folding chairs facing the audience. Suddenly actor Tim Mason pulls his Beats out of his ears, the music stops, and we realize that we're watching a sketch unfold in the passenger cabin of a Southwest Airlines flight (that will end in tragicomedy in Act II). Beats-less, Mason must fend off his oversharing seatmate, the formidable Rashawn Scott, who confides that she is Cleveland-bound with a plan to jumpstart her flagging marriage by shagging LeBron James' uncle. Meanwhile, the dancers around them enact a wondrous dance of air travel tedium, a marvel of minimalism, interrupted periodically by a jolt of turbulence - all of this to atmospheric jazz accompaniment by Second City's nimble Julie B. Nichols and Emma Dayhuff in the pit.

The entire evening proceeds in essentially this vein - a variation on the staging of a classic story ballet, with Second City actors as the soloists, supported by a corps de ballet who amplify the emotion of the moment, or provide a provocative counterpoint. With the added frisson of dancers not mer...

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