review: Treca Weinstein, Sept 23,2012

Sculptures, dancers make inventive show

By Tresca Weinstein

Published 9:38 p.m., Saturday, September 22, 2012

ALBANY — Stone and steel are two of the most immovable materials on the planet. Yet somehow John Van Alstine's slate and recycled-metal sculptures, on view at the Sage Colleges' Opalka Gallery, make perfect partners for the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company.

On Friday evening, the troupe's six dancers performed three short works that Sinopoli created specifically for Van Alstine's exhibition, which is titled "Arrested Motion/Perilous Balance" (the show runs through Oct. 14). As they moved on and around the sculptures, the dancers artfully reflected their primary themes: precarious suspension, dynamic vectors and contrasting textures and energy.

The choreography in the first work and the third—essentially a variation on the first—shifted fluidly from floorwork to standing balances. Circling around a nine-foot bronze and granite piece called "Doryphorus," the dancers became like shadows around a sundial, or the hands of a clock, melting onto the ground and then rising up again. The score by percussionist Brian Melick provided a sort of rhythmic infrastructure, a solid foundation of sound.

The kinetic feel of the sculptures, with metal and rock thrusting out in different directions, was echoed in the limbs of the dancers as they stretched and extended. So too was the play between angles and curves, as in Van Alstine's "Sisyphean Circle XLII," which juxtaposes a jagged line of slate against a circle of steel.

In the second work, each of the dancers (Melissa George, Claire Jacob-Zysman, Marie Klaiber, Andre Robles, Sara Senecal and Laura Teeter) interacted with a specific sculpture. Jacob-Zysman threw herself into trajectories that both complemented and contrasted with the horizontal sweep of slate and steel in "Fleche III." Robles was an ideal match for the five-foot-high "Pique," a thin tower of granite and steel.

At several points throughout the evening, the dancers formed living sculptures, in pairs or as a group, balancing, lifting each other and sharing weight in changing arrangements.

The audience followed the dancers from one side of the gallery to the other, finding new perspectives with each move. It was even interesting when a dancer was partially hidden for a moment behind a sculpture, allowing the art to come in and out of focus. Another advantage to the intimate setting was an up-close look at Kim Vanyo's detailed costumes, in earth tones and splashes of red, with geometric appliques and playful fringe.

The evening was another example, among many, of Sinopoli's inventive and flexible approach to dance. Wherever she unleashes her dancers—whether on the proscenium stage, in site-specific architectural environments, or in local parks in her recent "Undercover Playground" series — it's worth watching.

Tresca Weinstein is a frequent contributor to the Times Union.

Dance review

Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company

When: 7:45 p.m. Friday

Where: Sage Colleges Opalka Gallery, 140 New Scotland Ave., Albany.

Length: 70 minutes, with two intermissions.

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installed outside Opalka Gallery, Sage College Albany