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What you need to know for 04/30/2017

Tero Saarinen Company program at Bard shadowy and hypnotic

Tero Saarinen Company program at Bard shadowy and hypnotic

Choreographer Tero Saarinen believes that dance can get to the heart of humanity. But with his ensem

Tero Saarinen Company

WHEN: 8 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, Route 9G, Annandale-on-the-Hudson

HOW MUCH: $55 to $25

MORE INFO: 845-758-7900 or fishercenter.bard.edu

Choreographer Tero Saarinen believes that dance can get to the heart of humanity. But with his ensemble, this Finnish artist mutes the primal passions and presents his audience with a superhuman mankind who can endure relentless mental and physical hardships.

In three works shown at the opening event at Bard Summerscape, the Tero Saarinen Company does this with a magic that is hypnotic. Using lights, projections and a sparse cast, Saarinen and his ensemble, as seen at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, draws his audience in. When the curtain rises on his dances, most already in motion, the audience strains to see what is happening. In silhouette or in shadows, the dancers are not fully formed to the eye. But soon that curiosity to see a face is lost in the intensity of movement and shifting light. And no work does this better than Saarinen’s own tour de force “Hunt.”

The solo, danced by the choreographer, is set to Stravinsky’s monumental “Rite of Spring.” At the start, Saarinen is invisible. A single, orange light above him casts a shadow to the floor. And as the music rises, we see him. He looks like a fledgling just finding its wings. All twisted arms and legs, he flays in light that shoots through his transparent skirt.

As Stravinsky’s horns blare, Saarinen’s movement becomes more bold. He circles the stage, throwing his arms behind him while his face and chest shoot skyward. He often pauses, shaping himself into the one-dimensional form, a reference to the original Vaslav Nijinsky choreography. But even when he is still, he looks ready to pounce.

Then come the abstract projections that swirl and flash on his sweaty face, chest and the folds of his skirt. This completes his transformation into something beyond nature.

Marita Liulia designed the light and projections that were essential to Saarinen’s “Hunt,” which should stand as his signature, for its sense of adventure and wild energy.

The evening also featured a dreamy trio, “Westward Ho!” Featuring Saku Koistinen, Pekka Louhio and Heikki Vienola, this rhythmic dance is meant to address friendship. But its repetitive movement, all bathed in blue, depicts a world that is tedious and sad. In the end, these three men who begin moving in unison find their individuality. But the clouds that materialize above their heads remind the audience that their sun has yet to come out.

In “Wavelengths,” Saarinen infused his dour sensibility into a romantic situation. Henrikki Heikkila and Sini Lansivuori are a couple who long for each other, but fear commitment and intimacy. After many false steps, reaching for each other and never quite connecting, they arrive at a passionate embrace. What a beautiful release it was.

Reach Gazette reviewer Wendy Liberatore at wendyliberatore@yahoo.com.

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