by meg mathis | October 8, 2013 | People
Hogan McLaughlin, Glenn Edgerton, and Robyn Mineko Williams discuss the future of Hubbard Street Dance.
Imaginative Asian fare at Embeya.
Hogan McLaughlin, Glenn Edgerton, and Robyn Mineko Williams value innovation in their dance company—and in their cuisine.
They dined on Embeya’s seafood stew with mussels, clams, and sea bass in a coconut-lemongrass broth.
Glenn Edgerton is a mover and shaker, literally: He studied under legendary ballet choreographer Robert Joffrey and performed lead roles in The Joffrey Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater before joining Hubbard Street Dance’s administrative team in 2008, where he now serves as artistic director. This month, the contemporary company kicks off its 36th season at Harris Theater with a fall series that includes new work by Hubbard Street Dance alum Robyn Mineko Williams, featuring costumes by Hogan McLaughlin, a Hubbard Street dancer-turned-designer who’s dressed everyone from style icons Daphne Guinness and Michelle Harper to pop goddess Lady Gaga. Over a selection of lunch pairings, the trio discuss collaboration, expecting the unexpected, and how Embeya is similar to Hubbard Street Dance.
What’s in store this season at Hubbard Street?
GLENN EDGERTON: We have my five favorite master choreographers—Jirí Kylián, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato, and William Forsythe—we will present, but in the first program Ohad Naharin and Mats Ek are being presented alongside Robyn and house choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo.
[Green papaya salad, spring wrap, and tuna are served]
How frequently do you make it to Embeya, Glenn?
GE: After Sunday matinees, I’ve been brought here by board members. We’re not that far from the Harris, and it’s halfway between our studios. I find the eclectic menu impressive. There are so many unique choices, it’s impossible to single out any one dish.
[Domaine Fouassier Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Sancerre France is served]
HOGAN MCLAUGHLIN: Cheers!
Hogan, tell us about your design background.
HM: It was nonexistent. I left Hubbard Street in 2009 for New York, and I met Daphne Guinness on Twitter. She commissioned my stuff, and then agents hooked me up with pop stars. It’s been a really crazy ride.
And Robyn, congratulations on being awarded the Princess Grace Foundation Choreography Fellowship!
ROBYN MINEKO WILLIAMS: [Laughs] I was shocked. Hubbard Street was the company that my mom took me to see; I fell in love with it at the age of 9 and decided I wanted to be a Hubbard Street dancer. At 14, I was on scholarship at Lou Conte Dance Studio and went through the program, danced for River North Dance Company, and then I finally got in at an open audition, beginning my 12 years at Hubbard Street. I hope there are a lot of 9-year-olds who have the same thought that I did.
How do you and Hogan collaborate?
GE: It’s all about experimenting. [Gesturing toward tuna] Looking at this wonderful food, it’s kind of thinking there’s no recipe involved: “These are the ingredients you have to use, and this is how things are typically put together.” On the contrary, they’ve put things together that are not typically together.
HM: That’s what’s interesting about Robyn’s stuff: It really is unlike a lot of things you’ve seen movement-wise. I’ll go home after watching rehearsal and try to do some of the moves she was teaching the dancers and be like, “OK, I have to figure out how to do that now.” It’s very interesting to see onstage.
RMW: I’m glad you think so. [Laughs]
Glenn, what do you envision for the next 36 seasons at Hubbard Street?
GE: Let’s say there’s someone in some remote village in Austria: “Oh, I want to see that company in the United States that is doing unique things with dance.” I want to be that internationally known company.
[Japanese sea bass, garlic chicken, and seafood stew are served]
GE: This looks great. It might take another 36 years, but I want dance to become more mainstream. How many times have you seen Casablanca or Rear Window? Those movies you want to see again? I want dance to be like that.
HM: Children are exposed to musical theater, and that’s [often] their take on dance, but there’s so much more finesse with a contemporary company. My mother is obsessed with So You Think You Can Dance, and I’ll feign interest, but being spoiled by Hubbard Street, it’s hard to watch.
GE: You don’t go to the museum and put Picasso up to a Jackson Pollock and say, “Which is the better artist?” Why are we doing that with dance? How do you say a sense of self-expression is better than the one next to you?
Hogan and Robyn, this is your first visit to Embeya. What do you think?
HM: I was struck by the giant wood screens with amazingly intricate carvings. I use a similar geometric approach in my fashion, so it felt like something I would have designed. I love the feeling of a warehouse that has been given such interesting artistic touches.
RMW: The feel of the space really matches the elegance and clarity of the food. I appreciate the architectural structure within all aspects of dining; food-wise, the steamed sea bass was my favorite.
HM: The tuna tartare was lovely.
RMW: [Laughs] This is the seafood side of the table!
GE: I think of Embeya as I do Hubbard Street: We both strive for the same things. Their approach is based on thought-provoking innovation with an extreme eye toward detail. I like that the flavors are not typical—that they’ve been creatively mixed. And the wine is excellent. If I had time, I’d request a bottle.
RMW: [Laughs] Next time!
Season 36 of Hubbard Street Dance begins October 10–13 at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Dr., 312-850-9744
photography by anthony tahlier
January 4, 2019