The Hubbard Street Dance Company makes its Artown debut.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

What Lou Conte started in 1977 with four dancers performing for Chicago senior citizens’ homes during lunch hour has evolved into a world renowned contemporary dance company with 22 dancers from 12 states and three countries.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is one of the only professional dance companies to tour year-round. It’s performed in 44 states and 19 countries during its 30 year history. Artistic director Jim Vincent estimates the company tours two or three months nationally, and one or two months internationally per year.

HSDC’s current repertoire adeptly captures the many facets of the human condition.

In Susan Marshall’s “Kiss,” a relationship is played out as the couple, clad in jeans and white T-shirts, soar suspended by wires, their sex defined by body contours rather than by costume. The pair moves together and separates, joining at the end.

In Doug Varone’s “The Constant Shift of Pulse,” 15 dancers with piano accompaniment challenge the audience’s perception of personal space.

“The repertoire with the company is as varied as those who make up the company,” says dancer and University of Nevada, Las Vegas graduate Jason Horton.

The opening and closing pieces for the July 26 performance at the Pioneer Center reflect a global presence. HSDC’s Artown debut will open with Toru Shimazaki’s “Bardo,” a dozen dancers’ fierce and haunting journey between life and the afterworld. The closing piece, Nacho Duato’s powerful “Gnawa,” is inspired by the healing rhythms of Moroccan and Spanish cultures.

“By offering an eclectic mix of works from different choreographers from varied cultures, times and experiences, I believe the audience has a distinct opportunity to explore sensations not felt in everyday life,” says Horton.

Vincent carefully orchestrated the menu for the program, considering both the substance and sequence of each piece. His own resume encompasses many roles: dancer, choreographer and ballet master. He says his three years spent working as a freelance choreographer for Disney Paris “put dance in perspective as a means to communicate with people.”

“As a dancer with the company, it’s very exciting to be able to dance in works not only by those established, well-known masters, but in works by emerging choreographers exploring perceptions today,” says Horton.

The Reno performance program includes “Lickety-Split,” a piece of whimsical elasticity and perspective of love danced by three couples. The piece was developed by HSDC dancer Alejandro Cerrudo, hailed by Vincent as a “gifted young choreographer.”

HSDC’s perception of humanity is reflected offstage, as well, providing comprehensive health and wellness programs, as well as a steady paycheck for its dancers. Horton says such support in the dance world is rare. Often, artists are forced to work several jobs because their company only has a 20- to 30-week contract.

“Because of HSDC’s robustness on and off stage, I believe that the fourth wall is overcome, leaving audiences content, artists fulfilled,” Horton says.