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Time-Out Chicago: Issue 136 : Oct 4–10, 2007

Making Tracks
by Lisa Arnett

Welsh electronica band
Hybrid inspires Brian Enos
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago company member Brian Enos brings a club vibe into the concert hall with  his new work, B-Sides (12" Mix). The 20-something dancer and budding choreographer has  indulged in a little DJ wizardry, creating a soundtrack composed of tracks by the Welsh electronica duo Hybrid—spanning from early, unreleased music to more recent work incorporating orchestral strings. B-Sides  debuts in the second weekend of Hubbard's 30th-anniversary program, which runs through Sunday 7 at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.

Enos edited the music himself, a process that started by poring over Hybrid's entire career. "The hard part was selecting what I wanted to use, paring it down and also making it friendly for [dancing], where there weren't too many long sections of just intense music—because there are only five dancers in the piece, and that would have just killed them."

Enos's enthusiasm for Hybrid's progressive breakbeats began serendipitously several years ago while he was hanging out in a supersize bookstore near Lincoln Center in New York City, waiting for a friend at Juilliard to finish class. He happened across one of their CDs and became totally captivated. He ended up listening to Hybrid tracks nonstop for the next month, making a point of digging up every available recording of the band that he could find. "I never really had a passion for dance and club-oriented music, but at the time, I was listening to a lot of Depeche Mode and '80s synth pop. I think it's interesting because this style of music was a natural progression from that."

Rather than creating movement on his own and then teaching it to the dancers, Enos favors a more spontaneous approach: He works out his choreography in real time with the dancers during his three-week studio allotment. Before getting in the studio however, Enos spends a lot of time listening to the music he'll be using. This helps him work out an overall structure of how he wants the dance to go.

In the past, he's experimented with choreographing specific material before meeting with the dancers, but he found that it doesn't look as he imagined it. "I feel like it saves time in the long run to create it with [the dancers] there, and you can look at something and see how it actually works on real people."

Working with familiar faces (his fellow HSDC company members) made for a "low-stress creation process," Enos says. The five
B-Sides dancers are veteran Shannon Alvis, in the company since 2000; Penny Saunders; Kellie Epperheimer; Philip Colucci, a newcomer from Pennsylvania Ballet; and Prince Credell, a former LINES Contemporary Ballet dancer whom critics have likened to exceptional modern dancer Desmond Richardson on more than one occasion. They'll dance in form-fitting bright red and purple costumes designed by Alec Donovan, a friend of Enos's from Houston Ballet who now studies at Parsons the New School for Design.

Enos is known for lush, flowing movement that calls on dancers' strong technical foundations, and he describes this piece—his second for the main company and fourth for the HSDC organization—as a stream of consciousness, with activity that ebbs and flows.

"What I tried to do is create a very amorphous environment for all of the dancers to be in, where it kind of goes between group sections and solos in what I hope to be a very smooth way," he says. "It's not a posing piece—it's constantly moving. The energy of the movement grows as the music builds, but then it really keeps a constant motion, even within quiet moments. It maintains a certain underlying current that propels the piece throughout."

HSDC appears at the Harris Theater in works by Enos, Naharin, Kylian, and Duato.