Review: Sinopoli dancers lithe, strong, do credit to ensemble’s founder
ALBANY When it comes to the local dance scene, there is no finer ensemble than the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company. Not only is it the hardest working, but it sports a coolness that intrigues. And now that her company is 22 years old, founder and Artistic Director Ellen Sinopoli has created enough fine repertory to fill out a dozen excellent programs — like the one Saturday night at The Egg.
For the event, Sinopoli pulls from her distant ’90s past — showing her best work, the duet “Dreams,” as well as the ghostly “Clusters.” Nice too is her newest work, which made its premiere. “Solo Flight” is a suite of solos for her six dancers. All of these dancers are deserving of the chance to fly solo as each one in the ensemble has been faithful to Sinopoli’s vision for several years. She is obviously grateful and it shows in the new work in which she crafts — with love and care — a solo for each one.
To music by Paquito D’Rivera and Mino Cinelu, each is special but a few stand out. Melissa George, in a yellow dress, is a stunningly beautiful wisp of wind. Laura Teeter, in red, is fun and flirty. While Andre Robles, who has matured into Sinopoli’s curvaceous style, is a gazelle — showing off his long limbs to fine effect.
Jennifer Yackel is exotic; Claire Jacob Zysman is mysterious while Sara Senecal tickles with her jubilant jumps.
The evening opens with the colorful “Contrapuntal Fling,” a work to the anxious urban sound of Leonard Bernstein. Here, the dancers display their sweeping athleticism and stamina — something that carries them through the night as the entire ensemble must dance nearly every piece.
The dancers bring their high energy down to appear like rolling fog in “Clusters,” which now features naturalistic videography by Brian Melick. To music by Franghiz Ali Zaheh, “Clusters” is an eerily gorgeous 1995 work that has purpose and meaning with this group.
Also from the 1990s is Sinopoli’s best work, “Dreams,” a portrait of a couple’s restless slumber. While Robles is a bit too tall for Teeter, and the two start out-of-sync, they pull it together within minutes to deliver a sketch of a couple’s desperate struggle to reach out to each other. It is moving and beautiful.
The evening ends with the odd “Blue(s).” Here, Sinopoli compiles a range of music that is loosely inspired by the blues. Created for her sextet of dancers, the piece feels like several different works rather than one. The only thing that holds it together are the crude Ellie Mae Clampett costumes by company designer Kim Vanyo.
The dance also starts out badly too with Sinopoli filling out some fiddle music that feels endless.
There are jewels in this piece that deserve to be preserved — the duet with George and Robles is packed with sensuality and anticipation. The trio with Senecal, Teeter and Yackel is sassy.
Despite the dancers’ best efforts and snappy personality, “Blue(s)” feels plodding.