Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Classical dream becomes contemporary reality for Hubbard Street dancer Alicia Delgadillo

By Emily Hoover

Lots of young girls dream of becoming prima ballerinas. Alicia Delgadillo was one of them. What she didn’t know as a child was that her dream would lead to a career in dance of a different sort.

Today Delgadillo, a member of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, moves to contemporary—not classical—choreography.

As a child, the San Francisco native’s biggest influence was Paloma Herrera, a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Delgadillo says she spent plenty of time reading about Herrera and looking at photos of her in magazines. Watching Jiří Kylián’s “Black and White Ballets,” though, inspired Delgadillo to pursue contemporary dance, she recalls.

After high school in Charlotte, North Carolina, Delgadillo moved to New York City to study in the Ailey/Fordham Bachelor of Fine Arts Program. The joint program provides aspiring professionals with training from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater plus a Fordham University education.

“Fordham is a great school, and Ailey really helped prepare me for a professional career.”

Alicia Delgadillo

“Fordham is a great school, and Ailey really helped prepare me for a professional career,” she says.

The school offers a variety of technical classes, allows students to choreograph on each other, and encourages dancers to use both the city and the resources at Ailey. It’s “really a wonderful place,” she says.

Delgadillo spent three years at Ailey/Fordham before joining Hubbard Street 2, where she danced until her promotion to the main company in 2014.

Hubbard Street, one of the only dance companies to operate year-round, annually performs four series of shows in Chicago and tours nationally and internationally.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays Delgadillo participates in technique classes, rehearses, and learns new choreography. It is “definitely hard work,” she says.

Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton is “one of the most amazing directors,” she says, because of his open-mindedness and desire to see individuals succeed. “When you promote that kind of creative, happy, energizing environment,” she says, “the group just tends to mesh well.”

Hubbard Street dancers need to be open-minded and have a “go-with-the-flow” attitude, she says. Things are continually changing, whether it’s the work they’re doing, the people they’re dancing with, or the location at which they’re performing.

“I don’t think anyone is the same dancer they were before the Forsythe program.”

Alicia Delgadillo

The company is fresh off its Season 38 Fall Series, a full evening of works by William Forsythe. One of the world’s great contemporary choreographers, Forsythe came to Hubbard Street’s studio to help the dancers prepare. But the dancers never ran the pieces while he was there. Instead, Forsythe created a “playground atmosphere,” she says, in which the dancers were encouraged to discover fresh approaches to movement.

“I don’t think anyone is the same dancer they were before the Forsythe program,” she says.

A Forsythe work is on the scheduled program for Hubbard Street’s Tuesday, February 2, performance at Penn State’s Eisenhower Auditorium.

Little mortal jump, choreographed by Alejandro Cerrudo, is Delgadillo’s favorite dance that she’s performed with Hubbard Street.

“The main company originally premiered the piece at the Harris Theater in Chicago,” she says, “and I left in tears.” The “exhilarating” dance is almost like a storybook, she adds.

The company performed a series dedicated to Cerrudo’s work in summer 2015. The choreographer came in during show week and informed the company that Delgadillo’s cast would perform that Friday and Sunday.

“It was a full circle kind of moment for me,” she says.

“Trust yourself. Know who you are, and know that you are enough in that moment.”

Alicia Delgadillo

Delgadillo says she also dabbles in choreography. She began experimenting with choreography in her school composition classes. She has choreographed at Hubbard Street through its Inside/Out Choreographic Workshop, an annual program allowing its dancers to create works for one another.

She draws choreographic inspiration from what is around her—the styles the company is working on, her personal life, and even what is happening in the world, she says.

Delgadillo admits to wanting to get everything perfect the first time, but she realizes that mindset can hinder her progress.

“Trust yourself,” she says. “Know who you are, and know that you are enough in that moment.”

Emily Hoover, a Penn State senior majoring in advertising and public relations and minoring in dance, is a Center for the Performing Arts marketing and communications intern.