Emily Ginter, standing, with Laura Teeter of the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company. (Photo by Gary Gold)
Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company’s annual spring concert at The Egg in Albany was a special one – not just because this well-respected local ensemble premiered it latest, a collaboration with artist Calvin Grimm, but because one of Sinopoli’s most beloved dancers, Laura Teeter, took her final bow.
A 19-year veteran of the company, Teeter was one of the finest interpreter of Sinopoli’s rather cerebral dances. Teeter poured in emotion into everything, humanizing the choreographer’s sometimes elusive explorations into music and art. She was also a beautiful dancer whose form was luscious, at times, silky, at others, sassy, but always generous and honest.
She was the vessel that brought the audience in.
And in celebration of Teeter, Sinopoli created a program of four works, all of which featured her – an exhausting feat and final gift to her fans.
The centerpiece of the evening was the premiere of Sinopoli’s “Journey” with artist and environmentalist Grimm. Five of his paintings, projected as a backdrop for the dance, expressed nature breaking through and then dissolving. Six dancers, the entire ensemble, responded to the abstractions to otherworldly and hypnotic music titled “Falling Out of Time/A Tone Poem in Voices” by Osvaldo Golijov.
The work began boldly with dancers tearing about, seeking survival. The dancers soon discover each other – responding and rolling around on the floor, seemingly part of the earth. As paintings melt into the background and a new one appears, a life cycle of blooming and decaying comes to the fore. The dancers reflect that by emphasizing the force and fire behind nature. They also form patterns that echo those inherent in nature, basically reminding us that we are all connected.
“Journey,” like many Sinopoli works, is multi-layered and requires several viewings to take it all in. Still, it’s clear she and Grimm were suggesting our lives journeys are like and linked to nature.
The evening opened with “Ghostly Interlace,” a 2021 duet with Teeter and Emily Gunter. The piece, to another Golijov composition, this time cello and marimba, has the pair shadowing and absorbing each other’s movement. The duet, that starts simply with a walk and ends with the two resting upon each other, is like watching an afterimage form and reform. It was fascinating.
My favorite part of the evening, however, was the revival of “Brink,” a group work from 2009, in which Sinopoli lets her hair down and simply moves her dancers to the music of jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas. With hips swaying, fingers wagging and big bold kicks, the dancers delightfully sashay to the music. It’s freeing, fun and one of Sinopoli’s best works.
The evening also including “Balancing on the Head of a Pin” from 2023. The work’s industrial feel has five dancers contracting and expanding on a dystopian world to music by Julian Brink.
And every step of the way, Teeter held sway. She will be missed.