Hubbard Street Artistic Director Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell has come full circle in a whirlwind career that began as a dancer in Lou Conte’s original Hubbard Street Dance Company. She went on to an illustrious thirteen years in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre as heiress apparent to all of the roles that international star Judith Jamison had danced, and which Ailey had created for her.
In her second season as artistic director, Linda-Denise brings that legacy back to Hubbard Street with a diverse season that honor’s the company’s past and forges bold new frontiers of diversity.
Current company repertoire for its recent Joyce Theatre season in New York and on tour to West Virginia reflects Linda-Denise’s vision for the future of the company. In a recent phone interview she noted her return to the Joyce Theatre for the first time as an artistic director since her performances as a dancer with Alvin Ailey.
Between dancing with Hubbard Street at age 19 and returning to the company as artistic director, Linda-Denise managed to acquire an MFA in dance from Hollins University, was a professor of Dance at Towson University for sixteen years, and is an ABT certified teacher. She serves on the faculty of Baltimore School of the Arts, and was central to establishing the Ailey Camp in Baltimore during the COVID pandemic. Add marriage and three children into the mix, and you’re looking at an extraordinary visionary with determination to lead Hubbard Street in a bold new direction, introducing a world view of diversity.
Drawing from the company’s past, and bringing new choreographic voices into the repertoire, the company will present two different programs in its two-week run March 23-April 2 at the Edlis Theatre of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Both will present world premieres.
In week one, Program A begins with the company premiere of John Coltrane’s “Favorite Things,” choreographed by Lar Lubovitch. Kyle Abraham’s “Show Pony” premiered on tour this year. The world premiere of “Nevermore,” choreographed by Thang Dao, involves intricate partnering as Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and the Asian folktale “A Bridge of Magpies” come to life on stage. The program closes with “Busk,” by Azure Barton, which Linda-Denise describes as “taking you to a place you can’t describe,” where one will ask, “where am I?” In a mixture of abstract and literal, the piece uses the sounds of breathing, Gregorian chant, and many genres of music to create a landscape. Linda-Denise expressed feeling “blessed to have Azure’s senior rehearsal director, Jonathan Alsberry” to give them all the intentions behind the choreography, and not just the steps.
Program B in week two opens with Osnel Delgado’s “The Windless Hold,” a repeat performance for the company. The world premiere of “on a PATH,” is choreographed by Hope Boykin, a 20-year veteran of the Alvin Ailey company and also a poet. “She’s always abuzz with creativity,” Linda-Denise said of her colleague. The premiere of “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” a duet by Spenser Theberge, set to the music of Nina Simone, is about process and relationships. The program closes with a reprise of Barton’s “Busk.”
The excitement is palpable as Linda-Denise continues to lead Hubbard Street through a season that has also included performances at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Summerstage, Jacob’s Pillow, and The Harris Theater (last fall and later this spring). “The people I work with are extraordinary,” she says. Her collaboration with Executive Director Dave McDermott and with veteran dancers has allowed Hubbard Street not only to survive but to thrive. “I want people to know that we’re back and better than ever before, and that they will be inspired by the voices and by the dancers.”
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's "Spring Series: Elements" runs March 23 - April 2 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets are currently SOLD OUT, but stand-by seats, $35 plus fees, will be offered on a strictly first-come, first served basis, in-person, at the MCA if seats become available last-minute. The Box Office opens for stand-by sales one hour before each performance.