Photograph: Katrina Wittkamp

Alejandro Cerrudo

Alejandro Cerrudo moved to the United States last fall, lured by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s reputation in Europe. The young Spanish dancer had a job, but no place to live, so he crashed with company member Cheryl Mann before moving to Lake View. With constant touring, long rehearsals, and excursions to coffee houses with other Spanish expats, there wasn’t much free time. Still, Cerrudo often lingered at the West Loop dance studio, inventing new movements and trying them out himself.

This past spring, Cerrudo entered his choreography into a major competition in Germany, and, at the fest’s invitation, took fellow Hubbard Street member Tobin Del Cuore to perform. Cerrudo won the bronze medal-a sizable

feat considering the event’s international scope. “Competition is a little silly,” he says, a little unsure of his English. “How can you measure art? How can you look at drawings by Picasso and Dali and say who is better?”

After returning home, the 26-year-old wowed his Hubbard Street bosses with a workshopped duet, an expanded version of which Hubbard Street has commissioned for its fall season, which runs September 27th through October 1st. Recalls Gail Kalver, the company’s executive director: “When [artistic director Jim Vincent] and I saw Alejandro’s work, we said, My gosh, this guy has something to say!”

Set to the indie-folk stylings of singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart, Come True debuts on a program heavy on in-company works-part of a larger trend by Hubbard Street (and other North American companies) to cultivate in-house talent. The exception is the Japanese up-and-comer Toru Shimazaki, on the bill with a world première.

Noticeably not in the lineup is Jirí Kylián, a Czech choreographer who is a Hubbard Street favorite. His influence, however, will be apparent. In 2004, Kylián chose Cerrudo and five other dancers to premiere Sleepless. Cerrudo says that workshopping Kylián’s piece beside the master was a pivotal career point. “That kind of experience marks you for life,” says Cerrudo, who says he is influenced by “everything,” including his identical twin, Raúl, who toured Europe for five years as a rock-‘n’-roll acrobat. Like Kylián, “I would like to be able to not be defined,” says Cerrudo. “Did I say that correctly?”