In the Capital Region, it’s not often that devotees of modern dance are exposed to anything other than the big, well-known ensembles that frequently tour.
For Gazette arts writer Joanne McFaddens's preview of this show, click here.
But thanks to our area’s own Ellen Sinopoli, a name familiar with local dance lovers, our chance to see the smaller, newer, up-in-coming troupes has expanded. Sinopoli has achieved this by convincing Philip Morris, executive director of Proctors, to host a modern dance showcase. Dubbed Next Move/Festival of Modern Dance, the two-night fest features four companies — Sinopoli’s own Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, Abraham.In.Motion, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers and Bill Young/Colleen Thomas and Dancers. Friday night’s program went so well, this showcase might be Sinopoli’s greatest contribution to modern dance in the region.
On this first night, Sinopoli’s troupe started off the evening with two of her more recent works: “A Gathering in Red,” which premiered in January at The Egg, and “Brink,” a much stronger piece from 2009.
“A Gathering in Red” is strung together by the music, by composer Cornelius Dufallo, that inspired it. Sinopoli expanded upon the original, but the piece still feels like it is longing for a shape, a reason to be.
“Brink,” on the other hand, is one of Sinopoli’s best works. It’s the closest thing she has come to a political statement about war and its consequence. But what makes the work so appealing is the restless energy her dancers bestow upon it. The cast of five is hip and strong and each of their solos is a boundless ode to joy and sorrow.
However, Sinopoli’s dances seemed common compared to the urbane work of Kyle Abraham, director of Abraham.In.Motion. Rooted in hip-hop and the martial arts, Abraham’s works are a fluid, yeasty brew that is hard-hitting and compassionate. His first piece on the bill, “Quiet Dance” begins with Abraham performing a dimly lit solo. With his seamless shakes and dodges, Abraham fascinated. He is a ballet street dancer, raised up, but rooted in the earth. He appeared as if he must dance.
Four others joined him on the opposite end of the stage. They moved slowly, partially in unison. While all clearly individuals, the dancers forged a connection, with a look, a touch or a drop of the head to a shoulder. While “Quiet Dance” captivated, it remained remote.
Abraham’s “Live!,” was funny, bold and bare-faced. Chelvar Monteiro opened the piece, wearing short-shorts and a sequined top, flaunting his wares. He was playing the model or the drag queen, vogue-esque as he hit his poses.
Elyse Morris followed, flooring audience with her version of a silent rapper.
In yet another section, Abraham offered the comic relief, playing a hapless amateur hip-hop dancer following voice-over instructions.
Abraham ended it all with a solo of unique grace and style — a beautiful, liquid blend of effortless movements. Abraham is among the reasons dance lovers love dance.
Next Move/Festival of Modern Dance will feature Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers and Bill Young/Colleen Thomas and Dancers at 7:30 tonight at Proctors. More information is available at 346-6204 or www.proctors.org.