The Reading Eagle 10/14/2007

A chance to see Hubbard Street Dance
By Susan L. Peña

Choreographer Brian Enos supplies creativity and versatility to the works of this Chicago company, which will perform at a local address — Schaeffer Auditorium as part of the Kutztown University Performing Artists Series.

As part of its 20th-anniversary celebration, the Kutztown University Performing Artists Series has co-commissioned with the University of Iowa a work from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which will be performed as part of the company’s program on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Schaeffer Auditorium.

The work, choreographed by Brian Enos, who is also a dancer with the company, is entitled “B-Sides,” and has already been premiered in Chicago on Oct. 3.

“The premiere went well; the audience seemed to like it,” Enos said in a recent telephone interview. “I was very pleased. “The dancers danced it beautifully.”

The name “B Sides: refers to the “B” sides of the old vinyl 45 rpm records, which played lesser known songs: the “A” sides contained the popular hits in pre-CD days.

Enos has used music by a British band, Hybrid, which mixes various genres into dance-club music and film scores, sometimes using orchestras.

“I’ve compiled songs that span their career, some very early and some most recent,” he said.

While much of the band’s music is fast-paced, Enos had the dancers to consider: No one can dance 18 minutes at top speed without a breather. So he had to search out slower tunes to vary the tempo.

“It was an interesting task to find both fast and slow music,” he said. “I used some material that was unreleased. I had to find more obscure material. I wound up using only one piece that’s very driving.”

Time to create

Once he had the music, it took him about three weeks to create the 18-minute piece for three women and two men. He said he had originally envisioned it for more dancers, but because of rehearsal constraints—another choreographer was also creating a new piece for Hubbard Street—he revised his plan.

“It actually gave me more time to work with dancers individually,” he said. “It’s a different environment when working with a smaller group.”

He said the piece is abstract—in other words, no story line—allowing the audience “to create its own ideas of what relationships between the dancers might mean.”

For costumes, he turned to one of his close friends,
Alec Donovan, a former dancer with the Houston Ballet where Enos first danced.

Donovan, who now attends the Parsons School of Design in New York, created simple costumes with interesting textures, Enos said, including red lace leotards with bright purple tights for the women.

“They turned out really nice,” he said. “They’re a little cartoonish; I really like them, although I never would have thought of them myself.”

Enos, who grew up 40 miles north of San Francisco, came to dance relatively late, at age 14. As a child he took music lessons and did gymnastics.

Drawn to music

“Music always interested me and performing always interested me,” he said.

In high school, he became involved in musical theater, but found he preferred dancing to singing and talking. Almost immediately, he began choreographing for the shows. One of the more experienced choreographers, noticing his talent, referred him to a ballet teacher, Maria Vegh, with whom he began to study at 16 and was quickly hooked.

After nine months of training, Vegh recommended that he participate in the Houston Ballet’s summer program; at the end of the summer, he was invited to enter the year-round training program. Since Vegh was retiring, Enos convinced his parents to let him move to Houston at age 17.

Living in a tiny studio apartment an hour’s bus ride from the Houston Ballet Academy (he had no car), “it was an adventure; that’s for sure,” he said. “But I didn’t care; I was on cloud nine.”

A short time later he was invited to dance with the company, and at age 18 he choreographed “Landing” for the Houston Ballet, becoming the youngest choreographer in the company’s history.

In 2001, he won the National Choreographic Competition; the prize was to create a piece for Hubbard Street 2. He created “Whip,” and then “Spare Parts.” The next year he was invited to join Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and in 2003 created “Diphthong” for them.