Dance troupe from Chicago to perform at Strathmore this weekend -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012.

In his new piece, “Going Nowhere, Getting Somewhere,” choreographer Rob Priore tells his students that being a young dancer means enduring years of anonymity.

“There’s never an immediate result in dance,” says Priore, 25, about the time it takes to move from the back of the stage to the front and the feelings that all the work will never pay off.

But even if you feel like you’re “going nowhere,” you’re still learning things that will get you “somewhere,” says Priore, choreographer-in-residence with the CityDance Conservatory program at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda.

Priore and his teenage students will premiere the new piece about commitment to dance as part of a program on Saturday that will also include performances by the contemporary dance company Hubbard Street 2 from Chicago.

A performance was also scheduled for Friday but canceled because of hurricane-related travel problems.

The Hubbard Street 2 troupe for ages 18 to 25 is affiliated with the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago professional company, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Priore is a founder and dancer with Company E in Washington, D.C., where he now lives.

He says the choreography for his new piece involves a lot of physical contact between the dancers.

“It’s very athletic, because I feel dance is a sport,” says Priore, who warms up his students with cardio routines and abdominal and core strengthening exercises.

Unlike more conventional dance, there are instances when girls lift boys or other girls, or dancers touch heads, he says.

“Working with Rob is amazing,” says Matthew McLaughlin, 16, of Silver Spring, who is one of 15 students dancing in the piece. “His work is so new and innovating.”

McLaughlin describes the movements as angular and unusual.

Unlike classical ballet, where everyone learns a series of basic moves, contemporary dance reflects the ideas of the choreographer.

“The movements are very different I haven’t seen them before,” says McLaughlin, who says Priore taps into the dancers’ imaginations to explain them.

In one case he showed them how to curve their hands and fingers by asking them to imagine they were holding large grapefruits.

“I always try to give them vivid imagery,” says Priore, whose new piece lasts 12 minutes and is in three sections, the first featuring “a high-speed cello” and the third, a “pulsing beat,” he says.

The music for the middle section is Nina Simone’s interpretation of the song “Ne Me Quitte Pas” [“Don’t Leave Me”], which Priore describes as “dark and emotional.”

“It’s a really technical, challenging piece,” says CityDance Conservatory student Katie Koegel, 17, of Potomac.

“It’s painful [and she feels] very distraught and hopeless.”

The weekend program also includes a performance of Priore’s dance “My Heart has Four Corners.”

The Hubbard Street 2 dance troupe is scheduled to perform “Lickety-Split,” a contemporary piece about love danced by three couples using “sensual,” “fluid” and “playful” gestures, according to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The music includes songs by San Francisco songwriter Devendra Banhart.

Also featured in the program is “Recall” by Robyn Myneko Williams, a mix of music by The Chromatics and Chris Menth, about how seeing things from different points of view can distort impressions of the same event.

The program includes “I Remember” by choreographer Megan Adelsberger and “Brutal Beauty” by Christopher K. Morgan, a resident artist at CityDance who lives in North Bethesda.

Koegel describes the CityDance Conservatory program as “very intense, very hands-on,” not only teaching students about dance, but also exposing them to professionals in the business.

“You get to see all different styles, and people from different places,” she says. “It opens your eyes to the things you could do in the future.”

In turn, Priore says he appreciates working with the students, who are eager to take on contemporary works despite the challenges.

“The students at CityDance are so hungry,” he says. “They’re hungry for what’s new.”