Category Archives: Hubbard Street 2

Moving Up

Dancers David Schultz & Alice Klock in "I Can See Myself in Your Pupil". Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

For two of the three new dancers added to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago‘s (HSDC) roster this season, it was a new road traveled.  Alice Klock and David Schultz – 23 and 24 respectively – are the first two dancers to move up the HSDC chain from summer intensive students to members of HS2 to being promoted to the main company.  All in two years.

Both dancers hail from Michigan, but the similarities in dance beginnings end there.  Schultz stated dancing at five taking tap (he wanted to be Donald O’Connor), then began taking ballet classes with his older brother Nick.  Once hooked, he took numerous summer workshops that eventually led to an apprenticeship (while still in high school) and then a full-time position with the Grand Rapids Ballet, where he danced for over four years.  Klock didn’t start dancing until age 11 with ballet classes.  She quickly took to the form and three years later attended a summer program at San Francisco Ballet, where she decided she wanted to be a professional dancer.  She went to Interlochen Center for the Arts for high school and after two years at Dominican University, figured it was time to start her professional career.

Here’s where there stories come together.  Both attended the HSDC summer intensive in 2009 and were asked to join the second company HS2.  Landing here happen almost by accident, but now they couldn’t be happier.  “I’d known a little bit about the company, but once I got here, I realized how much I really loved the whole philosophy and the rep,” says Klock.  Schultz agrees.  “Just learning the rep I thought ‘this is it’!  This is what I want to do.”  Their success ties into the larger HSDC mission of nurturing the next generation of artists.  “David and Alice are great examples to a bigger mission of mine, which is to mentor young dancers and prepare them for a profession in dance rather or not they continue with Hubbard Street or not,” says Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton.  “They’ve matured so quickly in all ways, both in their dancing and also in their understanding of how to approach their work creatively and practically.  I feel we have been able to tap into their talents and start to challenge them toward their potential.”  That potential will be challenged this season with having to learn the previous repertoire that includes masters like Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato and Jirí Kylián, as well as new company works by a range of choreographers from Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo to the legendary Twyla Tharp (her world premiere hits the stage this Thursday, Oct 13th).

Alice Klock & David Schultz in "Harold and the Purple Crayon". Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

No one is more proud of these two dancers than HS2 Director Taryn Kaschock Russell, “I’m so proud of them!”  After thriving under her guidance in the second company, Klock attributes much of their success to her.  “Taryn is amazing,” she says before class last Tuesday morning.  “She’s such a caring and passionate leader.  Taryn really looks at each dancer in the second company and finds what exactly it is that will take them to the next step.  Because of that, we progressed really quickly.”  With this close bond, Kaschock Russell was the perfect person to ask what it is about these two that impressed her.  On Schultz:  “He is a never-ending ball of energy and curiosity.  He is willing, always.  He has grown exponentially over the course of two years and added texture and versatility to his already dynamic stage presence.  He soaked up every bit of information that he could get his hands on from me and all of the choreographers and colleagues he worked with.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s also a handful – in a wonderful way.  You have to keep your eye on that one.”  On Klock:  “Alice has an intelligence that often stops me in my tracks.  When I first began working with her, I was taken by her physical beauty and long lines.  When she attended the summer program, she was very timid and a bit like a young fawn on those beautiful legs of hers.  During her two years with HS2, she went from that understated shy presence, unsure of her place in the room, to eating up the stage with her every movement.  She commands attention, her stance is strong and her gaze unyielding. ”

Come see Klock, Schultz, along with new HSDC company member Garrett Anderson this week (Oct 13 – 16) at the Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph)as Hubbard Street presents their Fall Series.  On the program, a world premiere SCARLATTI by Twyla Tharp, Nacho Duato’s Archangelo and Walking Mad by Johan Inger.  Tickets can be purchased by calling 312.850.9744, 312.334.7777 or by visiting the Harris Theater box office.

Interview with Dance/USA Board Member – Julie Nakagawa

Don’t let her small stature and soft-spoken, polite nature fool you.  She is highly intelligent and a fiercely passionate advocate for dance.  Julie Nakagawa, Co-founder and Artistic Director of DanceWorks Chicago (DWC) and an officer on the Board of Trustees for Dance/USA, is an artist, teacher, mentor and director that focuses on nurturing not only the individual artist, but the global dance community as a whole.  There is no ego here.

A native of Evanston, IL, Nakagawa moved away for a dance career with Off Center Ballet, Cleveland Ballet and Twyla Tharp Dance before returning to Chicago to be with Ballet Chicago dancer, husband Andreas Böttcher.  “We just wanted to be in the same area code,” she says from her River North office inside the Ruth Page Center.  At a crossroads in her career, a social dinner with Lou Conte offered her a surprising opportunity and she wound up managing the Lou Conte Dance Studio.  More opportunities came in the form of directing the Hubbard Street Training Ensemble (now Hubbard Street 2) which she nurtured for the first decade of its existence.  Böttcher joined the organization and an unstoppable team was formed.  With mentors like Conte and Gail Kalver, there really wasn’t any other outcome.  “That was a great place for us to learn separately and collectively and grow together,” Nakagawa says.  “Those two are the best in the business.”

When it was time for them to leave the organization, they took some time off to travel and really focus on what they wanted to do.  Eventually their brainchild DWC was born, which they announced at that year’s Dance/USA conference.  DWC just celebrated its 4-year anniversary in June.  RB sat down with Nakagawa earlier this summer to talk about DanceWorks, Dance/USA and the dance community.

How did the idea of DanceWorks Chicago come about?

The community was already showing signs of strain in resources.  The most obvious resource is money, but for dance, space (which is associated with money), time (which is associated with money) and just the pressure to produce too.  What seemed like a potential danger was that these young dancers that were coming up weren’t…their directors and the companies were at risk of losing the valuable time of investment.  To bridge the gap between student or BFA graduate or conservatory grad or first job, second job thing, because there wasn’t an extra studio space or ballet master to kind of help you along.  Or the idea that yes, we can hire a dancer that we need to put an investment year in…those things weren’t happening.  Directors were saying to me that they can’t renew them because there’s some resource that they are lacking and each company handles that differently, but for the dancer that’s devastating.  Psychologically, that’s devastating.  You don’t get prepared for that in school.  You get prepared for success, but what about the many different ways success can look?  What about things that look or seem like failure, how do you turn those around?  I don’t think that’s necessarily overattended to.  In talking to dancers…they were the ones that said to us that it’s important.  This contribution is important.  The emphasis on companies is constantly to produce the dances.  Our concern has always been to produce the dancers.  That is the difference.  And we need both.  We decided to found DanceWorks Chicago to fulfill that need in the community to continue to have this laboratory or this research and development time to invest in the dancers, because a really courageous and equipped dancer can really do something in these companies.  Where the companies themselves…that might not be their priority.  That’s not a criticism.  They need to produce dances, but the dancers need to be ready to do whatever it is they need to do to help those companies reach their goals. 

We’ve been committed to 30-week contracts for the dancers annually, on salary and with health insurance.  That’s been a push and will continue to be a push, but we’re committed to that because we feel that’s the right thing to do.  We’re committed to building that relationship with them.  To build any relationship you need time.   It can’t be a two-week project and a one-week project and a gig.  That’s not a relationship, that’s two projects and a gig.  Again, that’s not a criticism; it’s just a different rhythm.  Our rhythm needs to be that we’re with each other on a daily basis for full days (9:30 – 4:30).  Time is the most precious commodity.  Money, if  you don’t have it or if you lose it, you can get it back.  You might not, but it’s in the realm of possibility.  Time, you won’t get it back.  We take that very seriously.  The artists’ time, the audience’s time, funders’ time…it’s really important.  From little things like trying to start and end on time, to reconfiguring performances into these dance flights, which are two 45-min segments back-to-back separated by 15 minutes.  That total time is like a regular performance, but the audience has more of a say in how they want to spend their time or their resources.  Trying to do things like that has also been important to us, as well as this laboratory for dancers to explore who they are and test that muscle of courage. That’s a muscle that’s really, really important.  Confidence besides the technical tools, the intellectual capacity and the emotional availability to really be a compelling artist.  We try to give them experience so they can make the best choices.  Do I want to be in a touring company?  Maybe that’s not for me.  If it’s not for you, then you can eliminate certain situations and save you and the company time and discomfort.  It’s a broad dance world out there, but it’s got to be about the relationship and the fit.  Hopefully having these experiences helps them identify a better next step, a better fit for them.

How did you get involved with Dance/USA?

When I retired from dancing, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.  It was more of a personal/professional decision.  I felt I’d had a great decade-long career and felt very grateful about my career and my dancing.  I enjoyed it.  I still was enjoying it, but felt like I needed to make a life choice..a life change.
I talked with my director Dennis Nahad at Cleveland Ballet and he suggested I go to Dance/USA.  Cleveland Ballet were a member organization.  So I went (Minneapolis) and I went to the dancers forum.  There was like seven of us, but it was a really great opportunity that there was a much broader dance community out there and that there were all these people working on all different levels and in all different areas.  To come to a national convening was something I’d never done.  It was really important.  That was my first connection with Dance/USA.  Then, Hubbard Street was a member organization, so I went again.  There’s a lot of value in it.  If you want to play on a national or international level, I think it’s a mistake to think you can do it just in your own backyard.  It doesn’t really matter where your backyard is, even with the internet and technology, it’s a people business.  While you can’t always jet around, you can go to Pittsburgh or Portland or…if you plan ahead, you can make that happen.  Seeing who was at Dance/USA, seeing who wasn’t at Dance/USA, seeing who was making things happen for themselves…there’s definitely a connection there.  The panels, the forums, the speakers, that’s all really important.  The time in the elevator, the time between sessions, even lunch is equally important.  There are so many connections made, deals done, business cards exchanged, synergies discovered that makes it exhausting.  But hopefully you’re exhausted in the right way.  We’re looking for that inside information, that extra edge.  One of the first things we did as a young organization (DWC) was join it.  We felt it was important.  Joining Dance/USA and having 30-week contracts with insurance…it’s not the norm, but if we can do it, it can be done.

…and joining the Board?

Someone nominated me, which was very generous and gracious.  I have some big shoes to fill.  Eduardo Vilaro (former Artistic Director of Luna Negra, currently Artistic Director at Ballet Hispanico) was the most recent Chicago representative on the board.  I think Eduardo is an example of someone who really was a great board member for Dance/USA and translated that into success for Luna Negra…and rightfully so.  I was honored to accept and was subsequently nominated to be Secretary.  I had to ponder that for logistical reasons.  I feel it’s really important to give back.

What do you think having the conference here this summer will do for the Chicago dance community?

We’re all really excited about it coming to Chicago.  It’s the center of the country, so hopefully it’s easy for everyone to get here.  It would be great to have more Dance/USA members in Chicago.  I think it’s such a vibrant community.  Sometimes there’s a perception that there’s New York and then the rest of the country.  I think that has been true.  I don’t think it needs to be true.  Does there need to be one destination for dance in the country?  No.  The math just doesn’t add up any more for lots of folks.  I think Dance/USA is navigating a broad spectrum of dance in terms of their constituency and a broad geographic range on an on-going basis.  I think Chicago is such a great destination for dance.  If you want people to come, it’s not enough just to be here.  Part of it is connecting with them where they are…it’s audience outreach.  I think that one of the things is that it has provided an opportunity for the dance community to convene.  As wonderfully diverse and dynamic as the community is, it’s not difficult to stay in your own area.  Sometimes it’s their geographic area, sometimes their genre…whatever it is.  We had a community breakfast, which drew a really great cross-section of people from the local artistic community.  Artists, presenters, press, agents…it was great.  The opportunity for the community is to come together around dance and around the conference and to represent Chicago.  I think the challenge for the community is what’s going to happen after this?  Are we all going to go back to business as usual?  Your energized and refreshed, and that’s not without value, but what is tangible?  That needs to be attended to.  I would love to suggest a post-Dance/USA community convening to share experiences.  There are so many things to select, there are so many session to attend…it might be beneficial to tag team, so you’re not all at the same meeting.  Can we do that at a broader level?  Can we have the community get together and share for the people that couldn’t come or selected not to come…so that they can still get something out of it.  Just sit down and talk.  I think that would be a great follow up.  And again, I’m a believer in personal responsibility.  Maybe there’s a group that wants to talk about national touring and they identify themselves at the follow-up meeting and then they start meeting bi-monthly.  It would be great to have some really honest, passionate, respectful conversation.

My hope is that the Chicago community really uses this as an opportunity to really shine a light on dance in Chicago in some way. Even if they can’t be there or don’t understand, they understand that the opportunity is out there and they made a choice to attend or not to attend and they stand by that choice.  We’re going to throw a big party – what’s going to happen after it?  That’s the place where there’s a potential to maximize the opportunity for each individual or organization.  There is a way that we can maybe do that as a community.