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Dance by number: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Alonzo King Lines Ballet collaborate for 'Azimuth'

Inside Hubbard Street's groundbreaking collaboration with San Francisco's Alonzo King Lines Ballet

  • Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Alonzo King Lines Ballet dancers in "Azimuth" by Alonzo King
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Alonzo King Lines Ballet dancers in "Azimuth"… (Courtesy of Hubbard Street…)
March 12, 2013|By Julia Borcherts, @JuliaBorcherts | For RedEye

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is a big-time name here. On the West Coast, Alonzo King Lines Ballet is a key player in the San Francisco dance scene. Most dance fans would be happy enough to score tickets to see either of these famous companies perform. But both onstage together? That's a serious double dose of dance.

Three years ago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago artistic director Glenn Edgerton visited the studios of Alonzo King Lines Ballet in San Francisco. "I was impressed and inspired by the dancers—they are like Giacometti sculptures, they're these elongated, ethereal creatures—but also with [King] and the manner in which they interacted and I wanted to bring that energy in the studio to Hubbard Street," Edgerton said. "I wanted to put those creatures next to my creatures."

Both companies are known internationally, but their styles are quite different. "I thought that could be interesting, putting our dancers together to see what would happen with him creating on them," Edgerton. He proposed that King choreograph a new work to include both companies. "It's rare to have a choreographer make a new work where two companies are performing together," he says. "It's an event in itself."

The result is "Azimuth," which premiered Feb. 1 in Berkeley, Calif. and now debuts in Chicago. "There is a community feel of all these artists [creating] this powerful expression of two companies coming together. And that thrills me the moment the curtain goes up and you see all these dancers come forward. You don't know who's in what company."

Hubbard Street gave us a look at behind-the-scenes numbers that help tell the story of how this project grew from the spark of an idea to its resulting onstage glory.

65—Years combined that Lines Ballet and Hubbard Street have been in operation

38—Months ago that Hubbard Street artistic director Glenn Edgerton first proposed the idea for a shared program to Lines Ballet founder and artistic director Alonzo King

39:30—The length of "Azimuth" in minutes and seconds

50,000—Dollars awarded to Hubbard Street from the Joyce Foundation for the company's collaboration with Alonzo King and his company, Lines Ballet

8—Additional grants and residencies which helped fund the collaboration, including the National Endowment for the Arts, UC Irvine's Claire Trevor School of the Arts, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Allstate, Laguna Dance Festival, National Dance Project; sponsors Randy and Lisa White and Joel and Katie Cory.

27—Dancers in each cast of "Azimuth." That's Lines Ballet's complete ensemble of 12, plus 15 from Hubbard Street's ensemble of 18.

47—Minimum hours spent by dancers with physical therapists and sports medicine specialists

4—Number of dancers performing "Azimuth" who've received top honors and awards from the Princess Grace Foundation

7—Different countries in which dancers from both companies were born (Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, South Korea, Spain and the United States)

20—Days both companies' dancers rehearsed together in person before the world premiere on Feb. 1 in Berkeley, Calif.

2,130—Miles between Hubbard Street's and Alonzo King Lines Ballet's headquarters

168—Airline tickets booked for travel necessary to the collaboration

711—Estimated hours spent on costume design and construction

2 —Number of artists involved in developing the set design (Jim Doyle and Alonzo King)

250—Feet of collapsible tubing needed for the production design for "Azimuth"

7,000—Minimum counterweight in pounds needed for the production design for "Azimuth"

296—Number of lights needed for the performance

4—U.S. cities where "Azimuth" debuts in 2013 (Berkeley, Calif.; Chicago, Ill.; Madison, Wis.; Los Angeles, Calif.)

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Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Spring Series

Go: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive (performances continue through Sunday)

Tickets: $25-$99. 312-334-7777; hubbardstreetdance.com

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