Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company. Sara Senecal is in the front row, second from the right. Andre Robles and Laura Teeter are in the back row. (Photo by Gary Gold)
It’s the silver anniversary of University at Albany’s College of Arts and Sciences. And there is no more fitting way to mark the moment than to invite its long-time friend and artistic ally the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company to perform on its main stage.
For the celebration, the ever-prolific Sinopoli created a piece d’occasion, “As Seen from Above.” With live music performed by the Capital Trio, the work for Sinopoli’s sextet alit like a day in the life of a bird – busy and soaring in the light and somber and settled in the night.
The choreography rightly reflected the music, two pieces from William Matthews’ “Book of Hours.” However, it felt undone. Perhaps the entire score should be explored. If so, it would be wonderful to have it played by the lively trio for which the composition was written: Duncan Cummings at the piano, Hilary Cummings on violin and Solen Dikener on cello. They approached the music, as well as the Dvorak interlude, with weight and grace.
While a premiere is always special, the night really belonged to Sara Senecal – a dancer with the company since 2010. She was stupendous – attacking every move with energy – precisely placed for the greatest impact. Senecal did it again and again in all five works that made up the evening. She was so stunning that she herself had to be pleased.
The highlight of her showing was her duet with Laura Teeter in “Pierre’s Words,” a work from 1997. In it, she and Teeter enjoy a back-and-forth – a friendly, but edgy escapade. Their rapport was heighten by poetry read live by the writer himself – Pierre Joris. His intentional stutters drew out the sounds in ways that also stretched the dancers.
Overlaying the Joris’ words and the dancers’ give-and-take, was music by Joel Chadabe. His electronic score carried the listener along with its bounce and lilt, making for a memorable combination. However, it was Senecal with Teeter who made me wish the dance could go on.
The evening also featured another Sinopoli and Chadabe collaboration, the ever-popular “Relay.” One of Sinopoli’s early works, it experiments with lights and tempo in ways that are striking. I loved Andre Robles in this solo. He so often has a hard time finding his voice in a small all-female ensemble. But this performance convinced me that his gift is as a soloist and one that can excel in the adagio movement. Truly, Robles enjoys racing across the stage. It’s evident in his smile. But his simple switching back and forth – his face to the light and his face to the darkness – showed that Robles has a deep soul that deservers further exploration.
“Clusters,” a ghostly, naturalistic work, and “Texture of the Whole,” a piece that seems to unfold as an underwater ballet, rounded out the festive program.
Congratulations to the College of Arts and Sciences. But mostly, congratulations to Senecal. I look forward to seeing her again.