Choreographer Ellen Sinopoli has found an artistic ally in composer/violinist Cornelius Dufallo. For her 22nd annual concert at The Egg on Saturday night, her Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company melded with his multi-layered sound in three new works.
All three both rode atop and plunged to the depths of Dufallo’s reverberating music in ways that enhanced his mystical electronic scores.
Among the three was the premiere of “Continuum,” a glowing work for which Dufallo was commissioned. Playing live upstage, the composer performed his composition, which resonated with a tinge of the ancient as much as the modern.
Sinopoli toyed with this notion of the meeting and melting of two worlds in a highly structured dance that continually resurrected Sara Senecal. The dancers were radiant in their golden, V-backed costumes, designed by Kim Vanyo. Equally vibrant was the backdrop, a projection of painter Willie Marlowe’s “Yellow Triangle.” The combination dramatized the shimmering look.
While the tableau was stunning, “Continuum” was subdued. The dancers gathered and dispersed like the folds of an accordion in play. Together, their approach was soft, gentle and nurturing. But as they splayed out, they grew more bold, stretching their limbs, probing the space. But they remained a unit, coming together in the prominent and powerful shape of the V.
Sinopoli also showcased her newest solo, created for dancer Laura Teeter. “Zarmina” was a homage to the Afghan poet martyr of the same name. Again, Sinopoli tapped music by Dufallo and a projection of Marlowe’s “Collage Diptych.” Yet the somber dance, in which Teeter continually reached for the heavens and then ended with both arms extended as if in primal scream, did not do enough to depict Zarmina’s plight as an oppressed woman in a violent society.
The most enjoyable collaboration between Sinopoli and Dufallo was a piece the choreographer created for nine young dancers from three local studios: Tina Marie’s Dance Academy, Art in Motion Dance Academy and Danceforce. In just a few rehearsals, Sinopoli made “Beginnings” for these promising artists. All were wonderful in this dance, which unfolded like a wave.
The evening began with the company revisiting older works: “Pierre’s Words” from 1997 and “Brink” from 2009. “Pierre’s Words,” a duet with Melissa George and Claire Jacob-Zysman, has matured beautifully. The piece sounded playful with its percussive electronic score by Joel Chadabe, which laid a bubbly foundation for the mysterious words of Pierre Joris’ poetry. Recorded by the poet, his words were read with alternating slurs and echoes.
George and Jacob-Zysman were terrific together as they mirrored each other in a quirky dance that felt both primitive and elegant.
The program was rounded out by “Brink,” a schizophrenic dance to music by Grammy-nominated jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas. This piece ran the gambit — between hip and disturbing. One minute the piece was about war and death; the next about a carefree generation. Perhaps Sinopoli was commenting on American’s response to war — enthusiastically embark on it and then ignore it is happening.