abstract body in space: Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company.
Sinopoli Dance Company
years, more than 40 dances·more than 20 of them showcasing
the talents of collaborating artists in many disciplines·for
all this, Ellen Sinopoli has earned the respect of the community.
Her admirers came out to cheer a celebratory concert last
Saturday at the Egg that featured a well-made duet from 1991
and two premieres, one with commissioned music by Hilary Tann
performed live by bassoon soloist Krassimir J. Ivanov.
isn·t easy. Audiences that flock to movies and rock
concerts are often shy of dance, but Sinopoli tempts them
with her savvy collaborations with sculptors, poets, and musicians.
Saturday·s concert included two works with vivacious
music (originally live and now pre-recorded) by percussionist
Brian Melick and Spanish guitarist Maria Zemantauski.
a dance company up to standard isn·t easy, either,
because dancers leave and good men, especially, are hard to
find. At the 15-year-mark, the four women and (cheers!) two
new men show a high polish. Ann Olson, Laura Teeter, Sarah
Pingel and Melissa George, all with the company for at least
a year, have developed a musicality that invests Sinopoli·s
rather dry choreography with a plush quality. They put some
meat on the bones.
men to work with expands the possibilities, not only physically,
but emotionally. Abel Costa and Laura Teeter reprised Dreams (1991),
one of Sinopoli·s earliest and best dances, set to
music by Arvo Pärt. There was real human contact here
as the dancers, who could be lovers or spouses, rolled over
and over each other, slowly and softly shifting from their
backs to their stomachs, slowly raising their heads and letting
them sink back.
kind of relationship played out in Vain Endeavors (1999),
a clever trio that satirized narcissism, envy, and one-upmanship,
with two women trying to attract one man. However, he was
more interested in his own reflection and wanted nothing to
do with either of them. Torrie Zito·s fiddle music
underscored this smart mini-drama.
showed Sinopoli·s unerring ear for music and her attention
to production values. Becoming put the bassoonist at
stage right, while tall and lush Pingel shared center stage
with a commissioned sculpture by Martin A. Olstad, who works
with reflective and translucent materials that, in their movement,
present another iteration of dance. Pingel, responding to
the forays of Tann·s music, circled Olstad·s
sculpture, a Plexiglas shape hung inside a tent-like white
veil that looked like a hospital curtain. While the sculpture
swung from its wire, a moving light played on it, creating
veiled reflections that floated on the curtain. The sculpture
added mystery to the dance, but did not distract from the
created curvy shapes with her long arms or balanced on one
leg. She would fall, fold, and contract her torso, then rise
up from her belly in one elastic move, as if coming out of
a cocoon. She was a strong, compelling dancer, but her connection
to the sculpture was inconclusive. She touched the curtain,
but didn·t enter inside.
chose the recorded music of Zap Mama for Vooz-e-la, the program·s
second premiere. The whole company danced to Zap Mama·s
multi-lingual, polyrhythmic lilts, often moving in slow motion
to the a capella group·s boppy music. One section featured
two lively male-female couples, and a juicy duet with happy
hips for Pingel and Olson.
of Melick and Zemantauski propelled Falling (2003), in which
Sinopoli deployed five dancers in academic patterns of two
against three, high levels against low, and tranquil passages
against exciting ones. Similarly, Segue (2005) set five
dancers in a tight line and had them lean forward, backward,
to the side, and then bend double together, like one flexible
machine. They split into the familiar two against three formation,
sliding or leaping to Melick·s imaginative plops and
featured all six beautifully articulate dancers in Sinopoli·s
favored vocabulary of falls, rolls, runs, to the delightfully
scratchy pizzicato of Franghiz Ali Zadeh. I loved the music,
I loved the dancers, but it·s hard for me to warm up
to choreography that treats them largely as abstract bodies
in space, unrelated to each other. Too often, the dances are
all picture, neatly arranged and framed, but with no point.
has mastered all the tools of production and composition.
Her dancers are performing at a musical peak. I·m always
interested in what comes next.