The terrific thing about the annual Next Move Festival at Proctors is that it features excellent contemporary dance ensembles that might not make a showing in any of the area’s regular dance houses. And better yet, the lineup, curated by choreographer Ellen Sinopoli, is always diverse.
In its third year, the Next Move was once again exceptional for its fine selection of contrasting visions. On Saturday night, Sinopoli’s own marvelous troupe, the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, was joined by the delightful Lucky Plush Productions.
The two couldn’t have been more different. Sinopoli’s dances were distinctive for their musicality, embodying and expressing the soul of song with a singular point of view.
The Chicago ensemble, on the other hand, was a collective of six dancers/actors/comedians who not only danced, but talked. And they talked a lot, poking fun at the conceits of life on stage and in the studio in “Cinderbox 2.0.” A creation by its founder and Artistic Director Julia Rhoads, the piece tapped into our culture’s insatiable appetite for reality – delivered through an array of technological devises – and the need to share every thought that passes through our minds.
It began even before the audience sat down. Sitting in folding chairs placed in the four corners of the stage, one talked on the phone, others chatted with one another, while still others spun around warming up.
When the lights dimmed, one dancer could be overheard on her phone, talking about Kevin Ware’s compound fracture during March Madness. Her fear of hurting herself in this way, as she was, after all, a dancer who is nearing 30, became her personal obsession, a recurring theme in “Cinderbox 2.0.”
It continued with dancers unified in a funny warmup, where they cocked every part of their body — from head to butt to toes. They also showed off their hottest moves, while others applauded or critiqued them. Each had their own specialty, which they called their greatest hit — standing on a folding chair with one leg pressed to an ear, fanning fingers, flipping hair or krumping.
It was hilarious.
Sinopoli’s sharp-looking ensemble of five was an excellent complement of pure dance.
“Vooz-È-la,” to the snappy music of Zap Mama, grabbed attention with its buoyancy and witty phrases, especially the sassy flick of the head toward the audience when the dancers would strike a dramatic pose.
The beautiful Jennifer Yackel returned to dance “Becoming,” a solo that simmered but never climaxed. To music by Zoe B. Zak, Yackel appeared like a caged bird, aspiring to flight, but never able to run the distance for the launch.
The Sinopoli portion of the evening ended with “Oh My …,” carried along by the music of Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer. The opening duet of this portion, with Melissa George and Laura Teeter, had flair and showed off these two lovely dancers – fire and ice – exquisitely.
Equally divine and deeply moving was the somber trio that followed with Andre Robles, Sara Senegal and Yackel.
“Oh My …” was a definite “oh, yes.”