When Glenn Edgerton arrives in New Orleans this week, he’ll bring some of the top dancers on the contemporary dance scene, along with the work of some of the world’s best choreographers.
A former lead dancer with the world-renowned Joffrey Ballet and former artistic director of the Netherlands Dans Theater, Edgerton is the artistic director for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. His 16-member company will be on stage at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts on Saturday at 8 p.m. for one performance only.
Presented by the New Orleans Ballet Association, HSDC will be showcasing four dances created by choreographers whom The New York Times called “an international who’s who of contemporary dance.”
They include Spanish dance maker Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite and Hubbard Street’s own resident choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo.
Edgerton has headed the troupe since 2009.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s a terrific company to be directing, and I’ve got some great, very talented people. … I enjoy it immensely.”
Hubbard Street will take part in two of the nation’s most prestigious dance events this summer: Jacob’s Pillow and the American Dance Festival.
In addition to the main company, HSDC’s division for 18- to 25-year-olds — Hubbard Street 2 — also will have a chance to perform at Jacob’s Pillow.
This will be HSDC’s first performance in New Orleans since 2004.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago began in 1977 when a group of aspiring young dance artists approached choreographer/instructor Lou Conte about teaching tap classes.
During Conte’s 23-year directorship, he developed working relationships with world-renowned choreographers who, in turn, helped transform HSDC into one of the nation’s leading contemporary dance companies.
Although no longer actively involved with the company, Conte still attends their performances. Edgerton noted that the founder will be honored with a performance of one of his pieces during the 2017-18 season, the company’s 40th. The piece, he said, is appropriately called “The 40th.”
Saturday evening’s program will start off with 12 dancers in Sansano’s tribute to George Balanchine, titled “I am Mister B.” It is set to a Tchaikovsky score used by Balanchine in his 1947 signature work, “Theme and Variations.”
The second piece, Cerrudo’s “Second to Last,” features five couples dancing to the music of Estonian composer Arvo Part.
The second half of the program will consist of two works by Pite: a five-minute solo titled “A Picture of You Falling” and the finale, “Solo Echo,” which features seven male and female dancers performing to the music of Johannes Brahms.
The music accompanying the dancers will be prerecorded.
As a company specializing in contemporary work, the HSDC dancers rely heavily on the effects of the stage lighting. Wispy, oscillating trails of light follow some of the performers as they appear to be gliding through the air.
Other creative lighting effects help set the mood onstage, as well.
“Each piece has a different lighting designer,” Edgerton said. “Every choreographer is suited toward a particular lighting designer as well as a particular costume designer. So each piece is different in that regard. But we also have a terrific production manager (Jason Brown) who is a lighting designer and is responsible for overseeing each work in the program.”
During its brief stay in New Orleans, the company will conduct a master class for the NORDC/NOBA Center for Dance and Tulane University students on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Tulane University’s McWilliams Hall.
Edgerton will be giving a pre-performance talk Saturday at 7:15 p.m. on the mezzanine level of the theater, followed by a brief opportunity for questions.