"Sinopoli Opalka Showing a Dive into Art, Nature"
"Movement In Response to Immovable Objects"
"Sinopoli retrospective takes works to a higher level"
"Sinopoli troupe showcases the power of collaboration"
"ChoreoPhysics" at the University at Albany Performing Arts Center"
"Next Move Festival of Modern Dance at Proctors"
"Sinopoli/Dufallo Collaborations Enthrall"
"Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company Moves Forward With Celebratory Premiere"
"Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company brings kids into the mix"
"Synesthesia" a feast for all of the senses
Sinopoli Dancers Lithe, Strong Do Credit to Ensemble's Founder
Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company at The Egg, 1/12/13
Sculptures, dancers make inventive show
Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company at The Egg, 1/20/12
Passion for Dance
Sinopoli dance a bit of frolicsome fun to see at your local playground
Dance Troupes to Revel Range of Choreographers' Creativity
Next Move fest at Proctors celebrates diversity of dance
Sinopoli invites McCarthy to narrate for her modern dance ensemble
An Anniversary of Excellence
Ellen Sinopoli Comments on the Influence of Technology on the Arts and Religion
Sheer Modern Dance Strong, Cohesive
Sinopoli Brilliance Shines
Capital Region Achievers: Ellen Sinopoli
Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company: Engaging children through modern dance
'Jewels of the Dance' Times Union Review

The Artful Mind - Cover Story - May 2008
Ellen Sinopoli to Appear in From the Horse's Mouth at Proctor's Theatre
Year in review 2006 - Dance: Sinopoli provided most striking work
Work sets new bar - Sinopoli dancers brilliant in debut of original piece
'Spill Out!' is rich with visual delights


Albany Times Union May 3, 2018
By Tresca Weinstein

In its 26th season as the resident dance company at The Egg, the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company is celebrating a couple of other anniversaries as well. To start with, the troupe's performance at The Egg on Saturday at 8 p.m. features two works set to music by Leonard Bernstein in commemoration of the centennial of the composer's birth.

This fall, the company presents a special program as part of a monthlong series of events marking the 25th anniversary of the University at Albany's College of Arts and Sciences. The concert on Sept. 20 showcases four works Sinopoli has created over the years with UAlbany professors. In between the two shows, the choreographer and her dancers will be at Kaatsbaan in Tivoli for their annual residency, working on two new multimedia pieces.

Along with highlighting Bernstein, Saturday's concert serves as a mini retrospective of sorts, Sinopoli said, spanning a decade of work beginning around 2000. "Contrapuntal Fling," set to Bernstein's "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs," was made in 2008, commissioned by the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra. "Oh My...," from 2010, is set to five selections from "Appalachia Waltz," an album of folk tunes and traditional melodies by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, double-bassist Edgar Meyer and fiddler Mark O'Connor.

Sinopoli is particularly pleased to be restaging "Counterflow," a 2005 dance set to Bernstein's "Symphony 2, Age of Anxiety." Because of the unusual set design for the work, The Egg was one of the few places where the company could hold ongoing rehearsals without having to break down and reassemble the set each time. "The piece features five long, 3-foot-wide cloth panels that stretch from the catwalk down to the floor, and very abstractly represent the skyscrapers of New York City," Sinopoli explained in a recent interview. "The dancers interact with them to make them billow and swirl. Maneuvering something of that size and width is no easy task, but we've had time to experiment with them to make the movement as effective as possible."

The company also performs "The Betrothed," a duet excerpted from Sinopoli's 2001 evening-long work "From the mind of a single long vine, one hundred opening lives." Rounding out the program is a new work by The Egg Kids Project, choreographed by Sinopoli dancer Sara Senecal, featuring 11 Capital Region dance students aged 10 to 18. "These young dancers bring an energy, determination and passion that is so refreshing and enjoyable to watch," Sinopoli said.

The concert will be performed without an intermission, as some ticket holders are also attending events before and after the show as part of a fundraising gala for the company. With Karen and Chet Opalka as honorary chairs and former WNYT news anchor Phil Bayly as host, the "Plaza Nights" gala begins at 5:30 p.m. with pre-show cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, and continues afterward with a dance party at the Cornerstone.

The Egg performance kicks off what promises to be a packed season for the company, beginning with their Kaatsbaan residency, which begins late this month. They'll spend part of that time expanding a work-in-progress called "AFT.er," which the company debuted at last year's spring concert. A meditation on the components of grief, the piece uses computer sensors and projections to explore "how the human body can interact with a computer and what kind of imagery can come out of that," Sinopoli said. She'll be working with digital artist David Allen on the technological aspects of the piece, and two of her longtime musical collaborators, percussionist Brian Melick and guitarist Maria Zemantauski, will co-create the score.

The company will also dive back into "SleepWalks," made with Andrea Williams, inspired by dream journals and incorporating video and a soundscape based on the sounds of water.

At UAlbany in September, the program includes more of Sinopoli's many collaborations, in this case with a handful of the university's faculty and emeritus professors. "Relay," based on the concept of a relay race, is set to music by Joel Chadabe, and "Clusters" includes a backdrop of artwork by Thom O'Connor. "Pierre's Words" features poetry by Pierre Joris, and "Texture of the Whole" is part of an extensive project, titled "Choreophysics," created in collaboration with physics professor Keith Earle. Sinopoli will also premiere a new work set to music by William Matthews, performed live by the Capital Trio, UAlbany Performing Arts Center's ensemble-in-residence. "We are excited and honored to have Ellen's company perform as part of the celebration and to shine a light on the incredibly creative faculty in the University's College of Arts and Sciences," says Kim Engel, assistant director of the Performing Arts Center and a former Sinopoli company member.

As with all dance troupes, the makeup of Sinopoli's company has changed over the years while maintaining a stable center. Laura Teeter has been with Sinopoli for 14 years and serves as her assistant, Senecal and André Robles are now in their eighth and ninth seasons, respectively, and Louisa Barta and Maggie Ciambrone in their fourth. Madeline Morser will leave the company this year to return to her native Washington state, and Sinopoli will be holding auditions to fill her spot. "Three of my dancers are over 30, and that brings a depth and dynamic that's important," Sinopoli says. Their maturity and longevity as a group were particularly essential for the choreographer and for the company last fall and winter, after Sinopoli's husband of more than 50 years, Tom, received a cancer diagnosis. He died in January, and Saturday's concert is dedicated to him. The company has also established a legacy fund in Tom's name, inspired by the many contributions Sinopoli received in his honor.

"Tom was at every single concert, since Day 1, videotaping," Sinopoli said. "He was my biggest advocate." "Tom was so incredibly proud of who Ellen was, what she was doing and what she created," said Engel, who met the couple 28 years ago. "He befriended all of her dancers, collaborators, board members and everyone associated with the company. He was always there for all of us. I think I can speak for this huge extended Sinopoli company family that has amassed over the last two-plus decades when I say that we all miss him dearly."

"Sinopoli Opalka Showing a Dive into Art, Nature"

To the Pointe Blog
September 9, 2017
By Wendy Liberatore

The best thing about Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company is its willingness to experiment – not just on the part of its artistic director but its six dancers too. Part of that eagerness to test its artistic stretch comes in the form of collaboration with all kinds of other artists and art. And one of the more pleasant and enduring experiments is the modern troupe’s annual showing at the Opalka Gallery at Sage College in Albany.

On Friday evening, the ensemble was cradled in the realm of a Kathryn Field’s nature paintings and figurative sculptures. There, the company unleashed its whirling sensibilities to reflect on Field’s creations with three works in the company’s repertory and six dancer-made solos that are based on Sinopoli’s “Solo Flights.”

Dancers selected certain works that spoke to them – Louisa Barta loved the glowing leaf paintings; Andre Robles, the abstract sculpture of stone and driftwood; and Laura Teeter, everything of color. These little solos, while charming and revealing of each dancers’ personality, were mere interludes for three of Sinopoli’s pieces that she restaged for an audience sitting on all four sides of the room.

What makes the Opalka evenings so intriguing is the dancers are close – toe-to-toe with the audience. In this intimate setting, the audience can feel their power, hear their breath and see with searing clarity the shapes that Sinopoli is so well known for creating.

But it is the theme of nature and the physical body – like the paintings and the sculpture -- that overrides the evening. Sinopoli wisely selected such works as “Texture of the Whole,” a work she created with physicist and University at Albany professor Keith Earle, as the ensemble opener for the evening. Here the dancers draw out concepts of physics in a series of crashes and constructions in ways that explore the beauty and force of the science.

“Clusters,” a collaboration with choreographer Rob Kitsos, was also shown. To music that ebbs and flows, the dancers assemble and disperse in as if a breeze, sometimes stiff and other times gentle, tosses them about. Sara Senegal is a raging storm throughout, plowing through others and hurling dancers about in a way that feels violent.

While “Texture of the Whole” and “Clusters” still carry the eye, none of Sinopoli’s works can compare to the mastery of her “Dreams.” The first work she created for her company still holds up and captures the imagination.

To the minimalist music by Avro Part, the duet, staged here with Teeter and Robles, is a head first fall into the mystery of sleep. The dancers begin, standing, rocking back and forth like the pendulum of a clock, marking the time before they descend into the abyss. At that moment, the audience is captivated and stay with the dancers throughout their restless slumber.

An amazing work, “Dreams” remains one of Sinopoli’s best. And no matter how many times I see it, I am forever beguiled by its exquisite honesty.

"Movement In Response to Immovable Objects"

Times Union
March 2, 2017
By Tresca Weinstein

How do you choreograph a dance performance in an art gallery? Very, very carefully.

In creating site-specific work for three shows at the Opalka Gallery over the last four years, Ellen Sinopoli has learned exactly how to protect both the moving and the inanimate elements of the performance. So viewers might notice some slow-motion sections in her newpiece, “At Any Given Moment,” which her company premieres this weekend at the Opalka in conjunction with sculptor CarolineRamersdorfer’s exhibit, “Gravity + Light.”

While caution is a necessity around delicate objects, that won’t stop Sinopoli’s dancers from stepping directly into the mysterious environment evoked by Ramersdorfer’s multidimensional sculptures, most of which are carved from white marble.

“It’s like you’re looking at the interior of a membrane,” Sinopoli said in a recent interview. “Those layers and internal workings are very intriguing.” Reflecting the ancient feel of the sculpture, the dance “has a primordial, prehistoric sense to it,” she said.

Sinopoli’s source material here could not bemore different from her last Opalka project in 2015, when she made work in response to the show “From Concept to Console: Art and Aesthetics in Video Game Design.” In 2013, she drew inspiration from video installations by Michael Oatman, which were inspired in turn by Marcel Duchamp. Her first performance at the Opalka in 2012, choreographed around slate and recycled metal sculptures by John Van Alstine, is perhaps more closely related; as it happens, Van Alstine is Ramersdorfer’s companion and collaborator, and the two have often exhibited together.

“I am very excited to experience the energy of my pieces transformed into movement, music, rhythm and harmony,” Ramersdorfer said. “Dance and sculpture complement each other through their contrast in expression”—the eternal nature of stone versus the ephemeral nature of the human body in motion, she explained. She’s particularly curious to see how the dancers interact with her work “Trilogy,” an open structure with three hanging marble slabs. “The dancers will be able to move within the composition and express their dialogue with sculpture.”

Along with the new dance, performed to music by Evelyn Glennie from the improvisational percussion album “Shadow Behind the Iron Sun,” Sinopoli has reconfigured two repertory pieces for the gallery space. “Tumble,” from 2016, features curving, organic movement that would seem to be a natural fit for Ramersdorfer’s work. “Auriga,” premiered in January at the Massry Center for the Arts at The College of Saint Rose, is a trio set to music by local composer Andrew McKenna Lee.

While some sections will be performed within the gallery, with the audience watching from the lobby, at times the dancers will travel throughout the space. Where the viewer sits determines what they will see, Sinopoli said.

“We usually create a piece for the audience to see straight on, but what if sometimes you were seeing it from the side, or the back? Your perspective keeps changing. Depending on where you’re sitting, you’ll see different dancers more clearly at different times. Sometimes they’re all out there, facing the audience, and at other times some of them are partially hidden, while others are visible.”

Sinopoli had each of the dancers (Louisa Barta, Maggie Ciambrone, Madeline Morser, AndréRobles, Sara Senecal and Laura Teeter) choose a sculpture they were particularly drawn to, and work with her to create a solo around it. When choreographing within such a short time frame—the company will have only eight rehearsals in the space before the premiere Friday—she depends on her dancers for their input and collaboration, Sinopoli said. And she depends on the artwork itself.

“It needs to speak to me as being receptive to movement surrounding it,” she said.“When I saw Caroline’s work, I immediately felt that choreography could flow from it. Just as my dancers offer me ideas, the sculpture needs to offer ideas and possibilities.

"Sinopoli retrospective takes works to higher level"

The Daily Gazette
April 30, 2016
By Wendy Liberatore

In the past 25 years, choreographer Ellen Sinopoli created more than 75 works. And some of her best were on display Friday night at The Egg where her Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company celebrated its silver anniversary with a stellar, glowing retrospective of some of her best creations.

These fine dances — among them the Latin inspired “Sandungera,” the bluesy “Rising Low” and the electric “Filament” — resonated when they were premiered more than a decade ago. Yet these works were elevated to another level, one where the audience sat motionless in attention, because of her dancers. Truly, this was the most cohesive and technically able ensemble that Sinopoli has ever enjoyed. And the works, translated through their bodies, were sharper, more animated and thus more striking.

While the sextet was at their best, the threat loomed that this glorious close-knit group could crumble. That’s because it was dancer Marie Klaiber’s final performance with the company. After five years with Sinopoli, she has emerged as one of its strongest with a face and form that audiences always looked forward to seeing.

To commemorate her last curtain call, Sinopoli staged her sublime solo “Becoming” on Klaiber. The piece, from 2005, swung between sensuous-exotic to prayerful. To a commissioned score by Zoe B. Zak, the dance swept up Klaiber in windstorms from which she emerged bewildered but calm. Clearly the work was about seeking, either answers or purpose, and Klaiber performed it with honesty and tenderness.

The special night also included the world premiere of “Tumble,” to Terry Riley’s two-handed piano piece “Etude for the Old Country” as played by ZOFO. The first thing the audience saw, when the curtain rose, was Sara Senecal in an elegant pose wearing a beautiful gold and silver costume by Kim Vanyo. In an open back bodice and palazzo-style pants, Senecal radiated sophistication before she even moved a muscle.

Clearly, the music inspired Sinopoli’s romp of tilting, rollicking and rolling moves that sent Senecal and then the rest of the ensemble on a journey that was at times lively and others sedate. Senecal captivated at the ending too. As the others sprawled flat on the floor, she turned about in eerie silence until she joined the others, draping her body among theirs.

Sinopoli also intuitively featured her one male dancer — the statuesque Andre Robles — to fine effect. Rather than trying to incorporate him into synchronized group sections, which she did some of, she raised him up in solos and as partner to the women over whom he towers. His height alone makes him stand out, so capitalizing on that placed Robles in a more comfortable and astute, at least to the eye, position.

While “Tumble” was enjoyable, the three older works were stunners. The lively “Sandungera,” the evening’s opener with music that spanned the rhythms of tango, rhumba and salsa, warmed up the audience for more. “Rising Low,” for the five women of the company, broke hearts with its wrenching songs that depicted life on the edge. The ensemble piece “Filament,” to music by Donald Knaack, dazzled with its stark, robotic and syncopated moves.

In addition, a group of five teenage dancers joined the company for “Penumbra,” which was choreographed by Senecal. Featuring local teens has become a staple for Sinopoli’s Egg concerts and one that is wise and welcome as it builds audiences and showcases the area’s future talent.

But the most important thing about Sinopoli’s 25th anniversary was not The Egg retrospective, but the reflection inspired. Judging from the large crowd, dance audiences recognized and acknowledged she and her dancers are an artistic treasure, one the region must cherish.

"Sinopoli troupe showcases the power of collaboration"

Times Union
February 1, 2015
By Tresca Weinstein

Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company at The Egg, 1/31/15
ALBANY – For her new work, “House of Fables,” Ellen Sinopoli commissioned a score by tabla player Devesh Chandra, which he performed live for the premiere of the piece Saturday evening at the Egg. But Chandra wasn’t off to the side or in the wings: Instead, Sinopoli placed him in the middle of the stage, where he became the life force and emotional anchor of the dance. The six dancers (including two new company members, Louisa Barta and Maggie Ciambrone, who blended seamlessly) circled and wove around him, sometimes as an ensemble, sometimes broken into smaller groups and scattered throughout the space. The sensuous flow of movement, gently flavored in places by classical Indian dance, suggested life unfolding over time. Like Chandra’s music, it resisted a conventional arc—speeding up and slowing down, building and relaxing, until it came to an ending that could also have been a beginning.

The piece is an example of Sinopoli’s collaborative nature, which was amply showcased at Saturday’s performance. In addition to “House of Fables,” three of the dances on the program were co-created with or influenced by the work of others. The tone and mood of “Sea Ghosts,” from 2012, are set by a vibrant painting from Calvin Grimm’s series “Deep Ocean/Deep Space.” The dancers aren’t reflections of the splashes and swirls of color, but rather extensions of the painting’s energy, as they roll across the floor, cluster together and support each other. The score, William Harper’s electro-acoustic work “The Gallowing Sea,” enhances the wave-like quality of the movement.

In “Speaking Duchamp,” choreographed for the Sage Colleges’ Opalka Gallery in 2013, Michael Oatman’s video work “D’entre les Morts” is integral to the whole, visually and conceptually. Both the dance and the video (which is inspired by Marcel Duchamps’ painting “Nude Descending a Staircase”) use repetition and patterns to examine the nature and possibilities of movement—just as Duchamp explored the boundaries and definition of art.

Sinopoli developed “Texture of the Whole” (2014) with physicist and University at Albany professor Keith Earle. The choreography is derived from physics concepts, such as symmetry breaking, echo fragmentation, quantum beats and vortex shedding—though none of these are recognizable to the average viewer, it’s clear that the dancers are driven by inexorable laws and forces. They turn and roll in space, gracefully collide and rearrange themselves, functioning sometimes as single entities or pairs, and sometimes with a collective intelligence.

Saturday’s program also included “Nearly Uncharted,” a new work Sinopoli created for six local dancers, ages 13 to 18 (Jennaleigh Buffo, Mackenzie Anne Costigan, Michal Drucker, Alexa DeRuscio, Annabella Kennedy and Blair Vogel). The vocabulary is classic Sinopoli: curving and fluid, horizontal almost as often as vertical, with the dancers connected by invisible, unshakeable bonds.


"ChoreoPhysics" at the University at Albany Performing Arts Center"

Times Union
April 26, 2014
By Tresca Weinstein

ALBANY – When Ellen Sinopoli choreographs a dance, she thinks about music, visual images and her dancers’ individual artistry. When physicist Keith Earle, a professor at the University at Albany, looks at her dances, he sees microwaves, liquids crystallizing and proteins flexing and tumbling.

Happily, their dual perspectives enhance each other, as was beautifully evident in “ChoreoPhysics: Seeing the Science, Envisioning the Invisible,” a program of dance performed by Sinopoli’s troupe Friday evening at the University at Albany Performing Arts Center. The event was the culmination of a collaboration between Sinopoli and Earle that sought to answer the question, “Can dance make abstract physics concepts more understandable?”

Regardless of the answer, the dancing was fabulous. Perhaps the project heightened the dancers’ awareness of the forces at work in each of their movements, contributing to their grace, expressiveness and clarity of line. Or perhaps it’s that Sinopoli’s choreography just keeps getting better.

The performance featured the premiere of “Texture of the Whole,” cocreated by Sinopoli, Earle and the dancers, as well as four repertory works in which Earle recognized physics concepts represented in tangible ways. The program notes included reflections on each dance from both physicist and choreographer. For example, the fluid compositions and use of multiple spatial planes in “Contrapuntal Fling,” a high-energy ensemble piece set to music by Leonard Bernstein, remind Earle of “the significant density fluctuations one observes in fluids as a transition is approached.” You don’t have to fully understand that to get a feel for what he means.

It’s the same with “Texture of the Whole”: A familiarity with the concepts that informed it—including vortex shedding, quantum beats, symmetry breaking, the butterfly effect, nutation, echo and more—isn’t necessary in order to be pulled into its gravitational field. Ambient electronica from Brian Eno, Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins is the perfect otherworldly soundtrack for the series of intersections that unfolds on stage, as particles collide, objects rotate and revolve and bodies are inexorably drawn toward each other.

“Filament,” from 2012, set to percussion by Don Knaack, is one of Sinopoli’s rare angular, edgy works—punctuated by sudden stops and starts, isolations and idiosyncratic gestures. In “Solo Flight,” each of the distinctive dancers takes possession of the stage in turn to conjure up a mood, from languid to flirty to whimsical.

“Continuum,” which premiered in January, is an ever-shifting stream of fluid movement—flawlessly executed on Friday—set to a haunting, bittersweet violin score by Cornelius Dufallo. Earle’s thoughts about the piece involve microwaves, polarization variations and the Big Bang theory. Be that as it may, “Continuum” might also be simply the most gorgeous dance Sinopoli has ever made

"Next Move Festival of Modern Dance at Proctors"

Times Union
April 6, 2014
By Tresca Weinstein

SCHENECTADY – Restructured as a one-night mini-marathon of modern dance, this year’s Next Move festival at Proctors on Saturday achieved creator/curator Ellen Sinopoli’s goal: to showcase the wide range of definitions and incarnations that fall under the rubric of modern dance.

Each of the three performances—by choreographer Lior Shneior, New York City–based troupe Project 44 and the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company—was preceded by an artist’s talk that added a back story to the work.

Shneior, an Israeli native living in Germany, used Damon Runyon’s 1942 short story “Little Pinks” as a jumping-off point for his piece of the same name, which he premiered Saturday. He sketches the melodramatic story in broad strokes, using simple movement and props to portray the tragic love of busboy Little Pinks (Andrew Champlin) for nightclub dancer Gloria (Christy Williams). The piece feels contrived, but its most interesting aspect is the way in which Shneior exposes that contrivance by incorporating himself as a sort of onstage director; he sets the dancers in place, observes their interactions and pulls props for each scene out of his backpack.
Michael Abbatiello, Zachary Denison, Timothy Herian, Stanton Jacinto and Aaron R. White, the five men who make up Gierre Godley’s Project 44, are all fabulous, distinctive movers. In Godley’s new work, “fraternity,” they glide through sequences of powerful spins, whirling leaps and roundhouse kicks as well as precise, elegant gestures. They dance in unison, individually and sometimes in pairs that balance competitiveness with camaraderie.

Set to a score that spans Claude Debussy, electronica by the bands Loscil and Lamb, and funk/hip hop from N.E.R.D., “fraternity” suffers from its relentlessly moody, portentous tone. Yet there’s much that’s beautiful, as the dancers cross the floor like metal filings drawn by a magnet—always connected, never predictable.

Sinopoli’s “Speaking Duchamp,” an homage to artist Marcel Duchamp, was the most fully developed and varied work on the program. Adapted for Proctors’ GE Theatre following its premiere in November at the Opalka Gallery, the piece looked even stronger here, and the music, Joan Tower’s “Silver Ladders,” resonated in the larger space. With more room to move, the dancers exploded into turns and jumps, limbs outstretched. They used props artfully, including stools topped with bicycle wheels (recreations of one of Duchamp’s “readymade” pieces) and a rolling silver staircase—a readymade sculpture itself—which they slid fluidly through and around.

The dance was complemented by Michael Oatman’s intriguing video work, “D’entre les Morts,” inspired by Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase.” The multilayered images onscreen heightened our awareness of the thousands of delicate adjustments of muscle and bone required for every effortless-looking move a dancer makes.

"Sinopoli/Dufallo Collaborations Enthrall"

For the Daily Gazette
Sunday, January 19, 2014
By Wendy Liberatore

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 downstage, 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 woks: “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 gamut – between hip and disturbing. One minute the piece was about war and death; the next about a carefree generation. Perhaps Sinopoli was commenting on America’s response to war – enthusiastically embark on it and then ignore it is happening.

"Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company Moves Forward With Celebratory Premiere"

The Saratogian
Thursday, January 16, 2014
By:Stacey Morris, entertainment518 @21st-centurymedia.com

ALBANY > In celebration of its 23rd season, Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company will perform a company premiere with live music and projected visual art Saturday at The Egg. The evening will begin at 7:15 p.m. with a talk given by Sinopoli; the performance, which also will include a new work created by Sinopoli for area dance students, will follow at 8 p.m.

In honor of the celebratory event, the company has commissioned New York City violinist and composer Cornelius Dufallo to compose music for its newest creation, “Continuum,” for which he will perform live. Sinopoli said Dufallo is a composer and violinist at the forefront of the American contemporary music scene. The New York Times hails Dufallo as one of the “new faces of new music,” and praises his “alluring” solo performances and “imaginative” compositions. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from The Juilliard School of Music. For more information, visit www.corneliusdufallo.com.

“Continuum” was created by Sinopoli, the company’s artistic director, and her dancers during a December residency at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center. “I became fascinated with the concept of moving forward while never losing sight of what we bring with us from our beginnings,” Sinopoli said. “When speaking with Neil at rehearsal earlier this week, I found that his original themes dealt with memory. So, without actually discussing the context of his composition, we both were taken to the same place. That is what is so wonderful about Neil’s work.”

Adding a further dimension to Saturday’s presentation is visual art created by Willie Marlowe, to be projected as a backdrop for the premiere during two of the dances, “Zarmina” and “Continuum.” Marlowe has shown paintings in solo and invitational exhibitions in the United States and abroad. Her works are in museum, universities, corporate, and private collections. She has had artist’s residencies at The Millay Colony in Austerlitz, The Cill Rialaig Project in Ireland and three at The Emily Harvey Foundation in Italy. Marlowe has been a visiting artist in Russia, Barbados, Italy and Ireland. She is now a Professor Emerita and painting full time in her studio in Albany. For more information, go to www.williemarlowe.com.

“Zarmina,” which premiered in 2012, is set to a cello composition by Dufallo and was inspired by a landai written by Zarmina, an Afghan poet and martyr. “The landai states: ‘I am shouting but you don’t answer — one day you’ll look for me and I’ll be gone from this.’ I chose a painting, Collage Diptych, by Willie that is a dichotomy of stones precariously balanced on each other next to a floating house. I thought this beautifully captured the essence of Zarmina’s emotions and perilous situation,” explained Sinopoli. “For the new dance, ‘Continuum,’ I was drawn to the Yellow Triangle for its color, clean line and sense of direction.”
She added that the costumes, which are designed by Kim Vanyo of Saratoga Springs, build perfectly on the artistic dynamics of the performance. “As an artist, Willie’s uses her stunning imagination to reveal brilliantly colored visions,” said Sinopoli, who added that several of Marlowe’s paintings will be on display in the theater lobby of The Egg for the performance.

For the first time, the concert will feature dancers other than company members. Sinopoli auditioned Capital Region dance students ages 13 to 18, selected nine, and created a work for them to a Duffalo composition. Saturday’s young performers are from Tina Marie’s Dance Academy in Guilderland, Art in Motion Dance Academy in Albany and Danceforce in Guilderland Center.

“Our outreach programming is an important component of our mission and we wanted to offer a group of teenage students of dance the experience of working with a professional dance company,” Sinopoli said. “My dancers and I have been rehearsing with The Egg Kids on a weekly basis since November to create a new dance, ‘Beginnings,’ that will be performed on Saturday. The students are talented, enthusiastic and committed, and it’s been a joy to work with them.”
Other dances in Saturday’s performance include the disparate and compelling music of Dave Douglas, American trumpeter and two-time Grammy nominated jazz musician, propelling the dancers in “Brink,” (2009). “Pierre’s Words” is a multi-layered work of dance and poetry guided by the electronic orchestration of composer Joel Chadabe.

As the resident company of The Egg Center for the Performing Arts, the Sinopoli company shares its work with diverse audiences through concerts, showcases, residencies, workshops and educational outreach, seeking to enrich the community by enhancing the appreciation, understanding and experience of contemporary performing arts. Since 1991, Sinopoli has created more than 70 dances and has collaborated with more than 25 artists of distinct genres and backgrounds, such as architectural designer Frances Bronet, sculptor Jim Lewis, visual artist Calvin Grimm, clarinetist Don Byron, percussionist Brian Melick and composer Hilary Tann.

"Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company brings kids into the mix"

Ellen Sinopoli includes students in making, performing new piece for show at Egg

The Times Union
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
By Tresca Weinstein
Published 3:23 pm

How do you make kids into dance-lovers?
The Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company has attempted to lower the median age of audience members in a variety of ways, from performing in playgrounds to offering discounted tickets to schools and dance studios. For the company's annual concert at The Egg, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sinopoli is trying a new approach: putting the kids themselves on stage.

As the resident company of The Egg, the troupe doesn't have its own dance school, but five of the six company members teach in Capital Region studios. Sinopoli launched the project by approaching three of those studios: Tina Marie's Dance Academy in Guilderland, Art in Motion Dance Academy in Albany and Danceforce in Guilderland Center. Twenty students auditioned, and nine, ranging in age from 12 to 17, were chosen to participate in the making of a new work.
"I called the piece 'Beginnings,' because they're at the beginning of their study of dance and at the beginning of becoming young women," Sinopoli said.

Over the course of nine rehearsals, starting in November, Sinopoli worked collaboratively with the students, just as she does with her company members.
"When I work with my dancers, we go back and forth a lot — I give them ideas or patterns they can embellish on," she said. "I wanted the students not just to do the movement I gave them, but to give ideas back to me as part of the creative process."

"She'd ask for our input and make the dance adapt to us," said 17-year-old Keirstin Low, a student at Tina Marie's Dance Academy, who has been studying ballet since she was 3. "The best part was getting to work with a new choreographer and learning a new dance style. It's definitely made me think about dancing with a company."

For Elena Russo, a 16-year-old who takes classes with Sinopoli dancer Sara Senecal at Danceforce, the final moments of the piece were a highlight.
"Because there's such a big height difference between us, Ellen divided us into three groups, and in the end we all become one and dance together — and it's awesome," she said.

"Beginnings" is set to music by violinist and composer Cornelius Dufallo, who joined the company for "Synesthesia," a multimedia program at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall last spring. Sinopoli also commissioned him to compose the score for another new dance, "Continuum," which the company will premiere on Saturday.

"My choreography is often driven by the music, and that was true in this case," Sinopoli said. "The first section builds on ideas of moving forward, going back, starting over and expanding on what you have." The second section is characterized by "a sense of lightness and airiness," she said, with Senecal mostly airborne throughout. The final section is built around a series of gestures, she said, giving it a ritualistic feel.

"I did about 15 variations on the ending," Sinopoli said, adding that she often works "by trial and error."
"We arrange the order we do it in, arrange it in space, until all of a sudden you see it click," she said.

Visual art by Willie Marlowe, whose work was also featured in "Synesthesia," will add another layer to the new piece. Her painting, projected as a 16-by-20-foot backdrop, is reflected in the color scheme of Kim Vanyo's costumes for the work.

Saturday's program also includes three older dances. A 1997 piece, "Pierre's Words," is set to the poetry of Pierre Joris and will be danced Saturday by Melissa George and Claire Jacob-Zysman. "Brink," with music by jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, was originally made for five women, but last year Sinopoli added her sole male dancer, Andre Robles, into the mix. "Zarmina," a 2012 solo for Laura Teeter, was named for and inspired by a martyred Afghan poet.

With its 25th anniversary just a couple of years down the road, Sinopoli now has two members (George and Teeter) who have been with her for 10 years; the company's newest dancer, Marie Klaiber, came on board three years ago. "Having the same six dancers for three years allows the company to look at things more deeply," Sinopoli said. "I know where they can go and what I can ask of them."


November 15, 2013

(Troy, NY): Returning to the Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany on Sunday November 24 at 4 pm and Friday December 6 at 7 pm after last year’s successful collaboration at that location with sculptor John Van Alstine, the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company (ESDC) has been invited to create site specific performances in the gallery that will interact with and are inspired by An Armory Show, an installation by artists Michael Oatman and Ken Ragsdale. The performances by ESDC will consist of two new dances created by Artistic Director Ellen Sinopoli and her dancers. Music for these dances is by composers Joan Tower and Todd Bartel. Three ESDC dancers have already participated in the installation through Oatman’s video remake of Marcel Duchamp’s 1912 painting “Nude Descending a Staircase”.

An Exhibition and Installation by Ken Ragsdale and Michael Oatman September 6 - December 15, 2013 Opalka Gallery, Sage Colleges Elizabeth Greenberg, Gallery Director

Invoking the 100th anniversary of the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art (aka "The Armory Show"), "An Armory Show" is an installation featuring a curated exhibition of more than 50 artists significant to the 21st century artistic identity of the Capital Region. Ragsdale and Oatman have selected artists for inclusion that have either personally influenced them; stimulated the artistic growth of the region; or have recently injected new life into the scene. The 1913 Armory Show in NYC introduced modern art to America, most notably in Marcel Duchamp's 1912 "Nude Descending a Staircase", which only one year previously had been removed from an exhibition in France at the request of Duchamp's own brothers, Jacques and Raymond, fellow artists in the Puteaux Group. In addition, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Duchamp’s first readymade sculpture, 1913’s “Bicycle Wheel”, invoked by Sinopoli’s dancers.

ESDC presents the provocative and richly imagined choreography of Artistic Director Ellen Sinopoli and is celebrating its 23rd performance season. As the resident company of The Egg Center for the Performing Arts in Albany, ESDC shares its work with diverse audiences through concerts, showcases, residencies, workshops and educational outreach, seeking to enrich our community by enhancing the appreciation, understanding and experience of contemporary performing arts. Since 1991, Ellen Sinopoli has created over 70 dances and has collaborated with over 25 artists of distinct genres and backgrounds.

"Synesthesia" a feast for all of the senses.
Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company at The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 5/04/13

The Times Union
May 4, 2013
Tresca Weinstein

Ellen Sinopoli’s Synesthesia, onstage at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Saturday evening, brought together six dancers, five paintings and four musicians in a glorious explosion of movement, sound and color.

The multilayered collaboration matched five of Sinopoli’s dances with five vibrant abstract paintings by Willie Marlowe, which were reproduced in the program and also shared via Twitter (this was the rare performance in which viewers were invited to keep their smartphones on). Live music by violinist Cornelius Dufallo, percussionist Brian Melick, flamenco guitarist Maria Zemantauski and cellist Monica Wilson-Roach amped up the volume another level, literally and metaphorically.

The two longer works on the program were particularly successful in conjuring up vivid worlds and taking the audience along on the journey. “A Gathering in Red, Departing” swirled through changing moods and tones in tandem with a thrilling score for electric violin that Dufallo both mixed and played live. Long warbling passages segued into sections full of longing and languor, as the dancers (company members Melissa George, Sara Senecal, Laura Teeter and André Robles and guest artist Jennifer Yackel) projected a poignant sense of community and interrelationships. They made sculptural shapes, circled round each other and dropped to their knees in unison, letting their arms do the dancing and eventually lead them to their feet, where they plunged again into Dufallo’s turbulent sea of sound.

With Compas, accompanied with spirit and passion by Melick, Wilson-Roach and Zemantauski, Sinopoli takes the firepower of flamenco and translates it into her own fluid style. The piece begins with rolling hips and high kicks, and segues into sections of deliberate, dramatic movement, including a duet highlighting Senecal and Marie Klaiber. Kim Vanyo’s costumes, black with graphic elements in purple, echoed the energy and hues in Marlowe’s painting “Dark Sky.”

Marlowe’s “Lava Flow” and Vanyo’s orange and red costumes were also spot-on complements for Falling, the evening’s opening work. Melick’s rhythms and Zemantauski’s melodies set the pace for intricate choreography that clusters the dancers together and then sends them ricocheting out into space. Faster sections are interspersed with slower, fluid sequences of stretching and curving.

The program also included two solos: The Walk, with George whirling, leaping and gliding to Dufallo’s accompaniment, and Zarmina, named for a martyred Afghan poet. With quick, startled movements and extreme extensions, Teeter artfully conveyed a sense of oppression and urgency.


The Daily Gazette
April 7, 2013
Wendy Liberatore

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 Festival 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.

Sinopoli’s sharp-looking ensemble of five was an excellent complement of pure dance. “Vooz-é-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 André Robles, Sara Senecal and Yackel. “Oh My…” was a definite “oh, yes.”

Sinopoli Dancers Lithe, Strong Do Credit to Ensemble's Founder

The Daily Gazette (Schenectady)
January 13, 2013
Wendy Liberatore

ALBANY -- When it comes to the local dance scene, there is no finer ensemble than the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company. Not only is it the hardest working, but it sports a coolness that intrigues. And now that her company is 22 years old, founder and Artistic Director Ellen Sinopoli has created enough fine repertory to fill out a dozen excellent programs -- like the one Saturday night at The Egg. For the event, Sinopoli pulls from her distant '90s past -- showing her best work, the duet "Dreams," as well as the ghostly "Clusters." Nice too is her newest work, which made its premiere. "Solo Flight" is a suite of solos for her six dancers. All of these dancers are deserving of the chance to fly solo as each one in the ensemble has been faithful to Sinopoli's vision for several years. She is obviously grateful and it shows in the new work in which she crafts -- with love and care -- a solo for each one. To music by Paquito D'Rivera and Mino Cinelu, each is special but a few stand out. Melissa George, in a yellow dress, is a stunningly beautiful wisp of wind. Laura Teeter, in red, is fun and flirty. While Andre Robles, who has matured into Sinopoli's curvaceous style, is a gazelle -- showing off his long limbs to fine effect. Jennifer Yackel is exotic; Claire Jacob Zysman is mysterious while Sara Senecal tickles with her jubilant jumps. The evening opens with the colorful "Contrapuntal Fling," a work to the anxious urban sound of Leonard Bernstein. Here, the dancers display their sweeping athleticism and stamina -- something that carries them through the night as the entire ensemble must dance nearly every piece. The dancers bring their high energy down to appear like rolling fog in "Clusters," which now features naturalistic videography by Brian Melick. To music by Franghiz Ali Zaheh, "Clusters" is an eerily gorgeous 1995 work that has purpose and meaning with this group. Also from the 1990s is Sinopoli's best work, "Dreams," a portrait of a couple's restless slumber. While Robles is a bit too tall for Teeter, and the two start out-of-sync, they pull it together within minutes to deliver a sketch of a couple's desperate struggle to reach out to each other. It is moving and beautiful. The evening ends with the odd "Blue(s)." Here, Sinopoli compiles a range of music that is loosely inspired by the blues…There are jewels in this piece that deserve to be preserved -- the duet with Yackel and Robles is packed with sensuality and anticipation. The trio with Senecal, Teeter and Yackel is sassy.

Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company at The Egg, 1/12/13

The Times Union
January 12, 2013
Tresca Weinstein

ALBANY – When a city is fortunate enough to have its own resident dance troupe—as Albany does in the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company—faithful audience members start to feel as if they knew the performers personally. So it’s fun when we get a peek at their personalities, as in Sinopoli’s new “Solo Flight,” inspired by each dancer’s strengths and character. The company premiered the piece Saturday evening at its annual concert at the Egg.

As well as lending their distinctive sensibilities and styles to the work, the dancers also chose their own costumes, from the vast array created by Kim Vanyo over the troupe’s 22 years. Laura Teeter wears a flirty red dress in her saucy solo, perfect for her quick, sharp moves and flicks of the hips. In bright yellow, Melissa George is a sunny explosion of energy and speed. Sara Senecal dances as if she’s moving through honey, luxuriating in each sensual gesture. Andre Robles’ solo is all about length and dramatic balances, while Claire Jacob-Zysman contracts and expands with her signature combination of precision and looseness. Jennifer Yackel (a former company member replacing the injured Marie Klaiber for this performance) was wary and angular, a graceful warrior.

The program also highlighted Sinopoli’s facility in creating a tangible sense of community in her ensemble work, as in “Clusters,” from 1995. Moving together and then breaking into small groups, the dancers are always in connection and conversation, subtly reflecting and responding to each other. The measured, almost severe choreography, the enigmatic music (by Franghiz Ali Zaheh) and the backdrop—starkly elegant black-and-white nature photographs by Thom O’Connor—create a kind of Zen garden.

“Contrapuntal Fling,” from 2008, with music by Leonard Bernstein, is at the other end of the spectrum in terms of mood and color. Dressed in jewel tones, the dancers are brushstrokes in a vibrant expressionist painting as they turn, kick and make unexpected shapes on the floor and in the air. “Blue(s),” reworked since its premiere in 2011, contains some of the most flawless choreography Sinopoli has ever put on stage, in particular a wistful section in which George melts again and again into the support of the group, and a sassy, sexy all-female section set to the blues tune “No More One More Chance.”

The program also included a work that dates back to the company’s first concert, in 1991: “Dreams,” danced Saturday by Teeter and Robles. The duet, with music by Arvo Paert, follows a relationship as it traverses many stages—tenderness, questioning, separation and reconnection. The new set design, an image of a multicolored, layered work by fiber artist Linda O’Connor, glowed above the pair as they embraced, like a gorgeous, mysterious heart.

Sculptures, dancers make inventive show

The Times Union
September 23, 2012
Tresca Weinstein

ALBANY — Stone and steel are two of the most immovable materials on the planet. Yet somehow John Van Alstine's slate and recycled-metal sculptures, on view at the Sage Colleges' Opalka Gallery, make perfect partners for the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company.

On Friday evening, the troupe's six dancers performed three short works that Sinopoli created specifically for Van Alstine's exhibition, which is titled "Arrested Motion/Perilous Balance" (the show runs through Oct. 14). As they moved on and around the sculptures, the dancers artfully reflected their primary themes: precarious suspension, dynamic vectors and contrasting textures and energy.

The choreography in the first work and the third—essentially a variation on the first—shifted fluidly from floorwork to standing balances. Circling around a nine-foot bronze and granite piece called "Doryphorus," the dancers became like shadows around a sundial, or the hands of a clock, melting onto the ground and then rising up again. The score by percussionist Brian Melick provided a sort of rhythmic infrastructure, a solid foundation of sound.

The kinetic feel of the sculptures, with metal and rock thrusting out in different directions, was echoed in the limbs of the dancers as they stretched and extended. So too was the play between angles and curves, as in Van Alstine's "Sisyphean Circle XLII," which juxtaposes a jagged line of slate against a circle of steel. In the second work, each of the dancers (Melissa George, Claire Jacob-Zysman, Marie Klaiber, Andre Robles, Sara Senecal and Laura Teeter) interacted with a specific sculpture. Jacob-Zysman threw herself into trajectories that both complemented and contrasted with the horizontal sweep of slate and steel in "Fleche III." Robles was an ideal match for the five-foot-high "Pique," a thin tower of granite and steel.

At several points throughout the evening, the dancers formed living sculptures, in pairs or as a group, balancing, lifting each other and sharing weight in changing arrangements. The audience followed the dancers from one side of the gallery to the other, finding new perspectives with each move. It was even interesting when a dancer was partially hidden for a moment behind a sculpture, allowing the art to come in and out of focus. Another advantage to the intimate setting was an up-close look at Kim Vanyo's detailed costumes, in earth tones and splashes of red, with geometric appliques and playful fringe.

The evening was another example, among many, of Sinopoli's inventive and flexible approach to dance. Wherever she unleashes her dancers—whether on the proscenium stage, in site-specific architectural environments, or in local parks in her recent "Undercover Playground" series — it's worth watching.

Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company at The Egg, 1/20/12

The Times Union
January 21, 2012
Tresca Weinstein

ALBANY - Ellen Sinopoli's "To Sing, Laugh, Play," which her company debuted Friday evening at The Egg, channels the spirit of the late Merce Cunningham. It's not the choreography that recalls the master of abstraction, nor John Adams' music, which is far more melodic than Cunningham's typical choices, but rather the sense the dance evokes of being inside the workings of a giant perpetual-motion machine.

The six dancers, glowing in neon-bright costumes against a deep red backdrop, never cease turning, high-kicking, rolling across the floor, hopping, leaping and turning again. In quintessential Sinopoli style, they make frequent exits and entrances, cluster together and are scattered apart. But instead of being blown as if by wind or fluttering like birds, they seem powered by internal combustion engines. They're on a mission to move, and-like Cunningham's dancers always did-they look as if nothing could stop them.

The concert, marking the troupe's 20th anniversary as the Egg's resident company, also featured a second premiere, titled "Sea Ghosts." William Harper's eerie music, which integrates ocean sounds, and Calvin Grimm's explosive abstract painting, projected as a backdrop, conjure up an otherworldly setting in which the dancers float and writhe. They form a giant sea anemone with wriggling arms as tentacles, undulate like the segments of a sea serpent and rise and fall with the sound of waves.

Rounding out the program were three repertory works. The sculptural arrangements and dramatic changes of pace in "Falling" are driven by the syncopation and passion of its original score, by percussionist Brian Melick and guitarist Maria Zemantauski. "Oh my," inspired by some of Sinopoli's favorite phrases from poems and books, is divided into five sections; the common thread is the way the dancers remain connected to each other, both physically and emotionally.

If you had to choose one element to represent Sinopoli's work, it would probably be water. But in "Rising Low," she trades fluidity for fire, curves for angles. These five women are angry, determined, struggling, sexy and full of power. In a poignant solo set to Iris DeMent's aching "Easy's Gettin' Harder Every Day," Claire Jacob-Zysman whirls and reaches but doesn't seem to get anywhere-she's too burdened to fly. In this dance, air is not something to flow through, it's something to push against.

The fact that this departure works as well as Sinopoli's more characteristic movement is due in large part to the strength and versatility of her dancers, including the beautifully maturing veterans Melissa George, Laura Teeter and Jacob-Zysman as well as relatively new members Sara Senecal and Marie Klaiber. The long and lean Andre Robles, the sole male in the group, got a chance to show off a bit in both premieres; he's fun to watch.

Passion for Dance, Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company celebrates 21 years at The Egg

The Times Union
January 19, 2012
Tresca Weinstein

Melissa George and Laura Teeter, dancers with the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, have been living parallel lives for quite some time now. Both women graduated from the Boston Conservatory in spring 2004, joined Sinopoli's company that summer, and have been with her ever since. "I didn't anticipate being here this long, but the longer I stayed, the more confident I became, and the more I felt my artistry growing," Teeter said recently. "I was pretty lucky to land the perfect job for me right out of college."

In their time with Sinopoli, Teeter and George have seen the company's public profile grow as well, along with its reputation and base of support. This year, the troupe celebrates its 21st anniversary as the resident company of The Egg. Its annual "home" performance is slated for 8 p.m. Friday.

What accounts for the longevity of the company and its dancers' long runs? (A third dancer, Claire Jacob-Zysman, has been with the troupe for six years, while Marie Klaiber, André Robles and Sara Senecal are newer additions.) George sums it up in two words: "Ellen's passion."

"Ellen finds inspiration for dance everywhere," Teeter said, "She looks for opportunities and makes it happen so she can keep sharing dance."

Last year, Sinopoli curated the first Next Move Festival of Modern Dance at Proctors; the second annual event is set for March 30-31. She also took dance outside the theater with "Undercover Playground," a 15-minute work the company performed during the late summer and fall at 27 playgrounds and parks around the Capital Region. "People need to understand that you don't always have to go into a theater and sit still to see dance," Sinopoli said in an interview last week. "There are other ways to experience it. If we can introduce young people to modern dance, they will come to a theater to see it later on."

But Sinopoli doesn't let her more traditional repertoire lie fallow while launching such endeavors. She will premiere two new pieces at Friday's concert: "To Sing, Laugh, Play," with music by contemporary classical composer John Adams, and "Sea Ghosts," set to William Harper's electro-acoustic work "The Gallowing Sea." "With 'Sea Ghosts,' I started out with one idea, and it went in a different direction," Sinopoli said. "Initially I was going to look at how, as one gets older, one's balance and physicality become capricious. Then I started looking at underwater themes, and it became about these mythical underwater creatures whose control over their physicality is granted or taken away at will." A vibrant abstract painting from Calvin Grimm's series "Deep Ocean/Deep Space" serves as a backdrop for the dance.

Also on the program are three older works that showcase different sides of the company. "Falling," with a score by guitarist Maria Zemantauski and percussionist Brian Melick, was commissioned for The Egg's 25th anniversary in 2003. In "Rising Low," choreographed to songs by Otis Taylor and Iris DeMent, five women struggle against life's tragedies, both mundane and profound. Each of the five sections of "Oh My…" is inspired by a quote from a notebook Sinopoli has filled over the years with lines from books she's read - enigmatic, evocative phrases like "That night she dreamt of sapphire elephants" and "Peaches looked like tastings of a sunset." It's set to music from "Appalachia Waltz," a collection of traditional tunes performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer and violinist Mark O'Connor.

Two decades after launching her company, Sinopoli says it's "nice to have more fans of my work, and more people with a deeper understanding of it." Along with nurturing a dance audience in the Capital Region, she has nurtured a slew of dancers - those who have come and gone as well as those who remain. "I have truly been able to go deep down inside and find who I am as a dancer, and as a woman," said George, who got married last year and now owns a home (and a cat). "I've been with Ellen for eight seasons now, and I couldn't ask for anything more. I'm going to keep doing this as long as my body lets me dance."

Sinopoli dance a bit of frolicsome fun to see at your local playground

The Daily Gazette
September 4, 2011
Wendy Liberatore

Glens Falls - If you happen to be hanging out at your local playground, watch out. For the next four weekends, the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company is leaping and gliding along swing sets, monkey bars and slides. This unusual outdoor performance, known as "Undercover Playground," is meant to be a spontaneous explosion between four dancers: Melissa George, André Robles, Sara Senecal and Laura Teeter; and a drummer (on Saturday it was Zorkie Nelson). It's like a miniature flash mob, without the mob nor much of the flash as spectators are warned about what will take place just a few minutes before it begins. (Choreographer Ellen Sinopoli felt it was necessary to forewarn the crowd.)

Either way, those who, by chance, witness "Underground Playground" are in for a quick bit of frolicsome fun. The performers, whom I watched at West End Park in Queensbury and Montcalm and Crandall parks in Glens Falls, emerge from trees as if woodland creatures. With Teeter out in front, the line of dancers looks as if they are playing a lyrical follow-the-leader. They take giant steps, Robles especially so as his legs are far-reaching, and wave their arms above their heads. Senecal turns cartwheels while George springs straight in a tour en l'air.

Their leaping on to the playground is done with a mischievous smile - indicating they are enjoying the generous improvisation of this dance as much as the surprised audience. And once they land on the equipment, the real mirth begins. They slide down poles, careen head-first down slides and pump their legs on the swings while their feet do balletic changements at the peak of the swings' height. Tying it all together is Nelson. On djembe and tom drums, he is the heartbeat - signaling its start and finish as well as urging the dancers, who are working hard in the hot mid-day sun, to forge on. He also embellishes this sound with an occasional pierce of the flute, lending his music a Pied Piper sparkle.

One of the best things about "Undercover Playground," which runs about 10 minutes, is the audience reaction. The children, seated on playground equipment, look both delighted as they bounce to the music, and apprehensive as they gawk at dancers moving around them. Others follow the dancers and Nelson through the park - looking at their lively steps at various angles. One family in Crandall Park was in the midst of a birthday party. They all stopped eating, lined a picnic table bench and watched the action unfold. Two teenage boys at Montcalm Park eyed it in bemused bewilderment. Though they deemed it "weird," they asked where the dancers were going next.

While "Undercover Playground" might seem odd to the average spectator - it's not for Sinopoli. Some of her best work has her dancers hanging upside down or climbing on or weaving atop large equipment. But in all cases, audience came to her. "Undercover Playground" is inspired as it takes dance to the people, letting them see that dance can be play, a fact that is lost on too many.


Thursday, March 31, 2011
By Joanne E. McFadden

The Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company will perform "A Gathering in Red, Departing," as part of the "Next Move Festival of Modern Dance" at Proctors' GE Theatre this weekend.

Four very distinct styles of modern dance come to Proctors GE Theatre this weekend for the "Next Move Festival of Modern Dance." The festival was created and curated by Ellen Sinopoli, founder and artistic director of the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, who said she wanted bring in modern dance companies that have not yet been seen by area audiences. "Modern dance has a very broad spectrum - from almost performance art and theater with movement to something that's extremely balletic in approach, and everything in between," she said. To showcase that variety, Sinopoli invited Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion and Bill Young/Colleen Thomas from New York City and Philadelphia-based Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers to perform at the festival along with her company, which represents the Capital Region.

Next Move Festival of Modern Dance

WHERE: GE Theatre at Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday
HOW MUCH: $25, adults; $15, students
MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.proctors.org

Friday's performances will be by the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, which celebrates its 20th year this year, and Kyle Abraham.

Contrasting styles

The Sinopoli troupe will perform "A Gathering in Red, Departing," a work that premiered at The Egg in January, and the 2009 work, "Brink." Together, they showcase two different styles within Sinopoli's choreographic repertoire, with the "urban" feel of "Brink" juxtaposed with the "more pastoral" work, "A Gathering in Red, Departing." Both pieces are driven by the music that accompanies them and feature five of the company's dancers. Since the January premiere, Sinopoli has added a fourth section to "A Gathering," an 18-minute piece set to the music of Cornelius Duffallo. "There is this sense of scattering and tossing and coming back together and scattering again," she said, noting that the piece has a lot of lyricism and flow. She planned for the dancers' red costumes and movement to create a residual image of energy flow as they move across the stage.

"Brink" is set to music by jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas. Each of five sections is very different dynamically. "It's just very funky and really a lot of fun," Sinopoli said. "Many sections are quite cardiovascular. It's fast, it's funky, and it has all the nuance of jazz."

Abraham's dance company, Abraham.In.Motion, will perform a new work titled, "Live! The Realest MC." Pinocchio's desire to become a "real boy" inspired the piece, in which Abraham explores gender roles in the black community as well as society's view of the black man, all through the medium of hip-hop and celebrity culture. Abraham, who received his master of fine arts degree from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, has an eclectic artistic background. He grew up with hip-hop culture in the 1970s, but also has the classical influences of cello and piano, as well as visual arts. "You see the imprint of hip-hop, but that's not what he's all about," Sinopoli said. "He's a modern dancer, and some of the black culture comes into play."

Saturday brings Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers and Bill Young/Colleen Thomas And Dancers. The Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers will perform a 40-minute work called "Autumn Skin," inspired in part by a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote about how all of life is interrelated. Lin uses autumn as a metaphor to look at human relationships and what underlies them. His work is a mixture of Eastern elements from his native Taiwan as well as Western influence, both in tradition and aesthetics, all with a spiritual substructure. "Autumn Skin" alternates between highly energetic, powerful movements and stillness. "He has an extraordinary way of looking at stillness," Sinopoli said. "That's one thing that I found most intriguing about him."

Bill Young/Colleen Thomas And Dancers, who come from the U.S., Greece, Africa, China, Albania and Venezuela, will perform "Rein, Bellow" and "For Want (a circus)." Set to a score by composer Philip Hamilton, "Rein, Bellow" has an otherworldly setting where dancers perform a series of vignettes that include having them dangle from harnesses and dance on tables. In one part, they carry a rectangular table with one dancer on top of it and one below. "I found that interaction very intriguing," Sinopoli said. This piece, with elements of dance theater, is a departure for Young and Thomas. In "For Want (a circus)," a cast of characters with distinct individuality bounce off walls. Both works are characterized by their physicality and athleticism.

Sinopoli expects audiences to have different experiences watching each dance company. It was important to her that the festival have "an artistic and aesthetic depth to it" as well as "highlight what these choreographers are all about and how they see movement and modern dance." She hopes that Next Move will be an annual festival in the Capital Region.

Next Move fest at Proctors celebrates diversity of dance

Next Move festival at Proctors presents a spectrum of 'what's out there'

By Tresca Weinstein Special to the Times Union
Published 12:01 a.m., Sunday, March 27, 2011

Where: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday (Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company and Abraham.In.Motion) and 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers and Bill Young/Colleen Thomas)
Tickets: $25; students, $15
Info: 346-6204; http://www.proctors.org

Modern dance -- two little words that encompass a vast spectrum of styles, approaches and influences. With the Next Move Festival of Modern Dance at Proctors, curator Ellen Sinopoli aims to give Capital Region audiences a taste of that variety. With performances Friday and Saturday evenings, the festival offers dance that merges Eastern and Western sensibilities (Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers), hip-hop (Abraham.In.Motion), contact improvisation (Bill Young/Colleen Thomas) and the classical modern tradition (Sinopoli's company). "Modern dance covers a huge spectrum, and I wanted to create a showcase that would demonstrate some of what's out there," Sinopoli said. "Between the four of us, we have very distinct approaches." With two troupes performing each night, each company will claim about 45 minutes of stage time, enough, Sinopoli said, to "give audiences a really good sense of what each of us is about."

Friday's program pairs Sinopoli's troupe and the New York City-based Abraham.In.Motion, which director Kyle Abraham founded in 2006. His influences run the gamut from hip-hop to Butoh to the rave scene of the late 1980s and early '90s, and he often merges the personal and the political; he won a 2010 Bessie Award for his performance in his work "The Radio Show," inspired by his childhood and coming of age in Pittsburgh. For the Next Move festival, Abraham presents a new work, "Live! The Realest MC," which he describes as an urban reimagination of Walt Disney's "Pinocchio," exploring gender roles in the black community and the "quest for acceptance in the world of hip-hop celebrity."

The Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, The Egg's resident dance company, will perform work that reflects Sinopoli's background in classical modern dance; she trained with the companies of Paul Taylor, Martha Graham and Jose Limon. "A Gathering in Red, Departing," which the troupe premiered in January, now includes a fourth section that doubles its running time. The company will also reprise "Brink," from 2009, with music by trumpet player Dave Douglas that was originally composed to bring new life to the silent films of Buster Keaton.

On Saturday, the Taiwanese choreographer Kun-Yang Lin, now based in Philadelphia, presents "Autumn Skin," set to a collage of music including compositions by Philip Glass, Arvo Part and Kenneth Kirschner. "His work mixes Western and Eastern cultures, but is very contemporary," Sinopoli said. "From his Asian background, he has an amazing stillness in his work."

Exploring nature and relationships, "Autumn Skin" is partially inspired by the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny." Bill Young discovered dancing through contact improvisation at Oberlin College, and then got involved in the downtown dance scene in New York City. His codirector, Colleen Thomas, began her career with the Miami Ballet and went on to dance with Donald Byrd, Bebe Miller and Bill T. Jones. Their company presents excerpts from their 2003 work "Rein, Bellow," which uses tables as props for the dancers to move on and under, as well as Young's "For Want (a circus)." Both works were created in collaboration with the dancers. "Bill's signature is contact partnering developed through improvisation," Sinopoli said.

Sinopoli hopes the festival will become an annual event; a date has already been chosen for next year's edition. The GE Theatre at Proctors, with 436 seats, is the ideal size, she says, for an intimate viewing of companies that are not typically seen in the region's venues. "Philip is quite visionary," Sinopoli said, referring to Proctors CEO Philip Morris. "This is a unique way to present companies and draw more of an audience."

Sinopoli invites McCarthy to narrate for her modern dance ensemble

The Daily Gazette
March 7, 2011
Wendy Liberatore

TROY - Bairbre McCarthy is the kind of artist who can lead her listener to imagine the fantastic. With her singsong brogue and her radiant demeanor, she is a storyteller you would love to invite into your home, seat her alongside your hearth and beg her to spin an endless stream of fanciful Celtic tales. Choreographer Ellen Sinopoli, always on the outlook for talent, recognized McCarthy's gift to engage and invited her to narrate for her modern dance ensemble. Their first creation was "Selchie," the mysterious and joyous work based on the myth of the Irish sea creature. From that success grew "Celtic Footprints," which was seen this past weekend at the Arts Center of the Capital Region.

It started out as an Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company vehicle for school-children in which students would learn of the historic Celtic migration through Eastern Europe and into the United States, while at the same time learning to appreciate dance and myth. It was so popular, it was expanded for an adult audience. The result is a fun, silly and instructive evening of stories and dance.

Against the backdrop of a map that traced the migration with footprints and shamrocks, McCarthy and the dancers told stories of Marika, who was captured by goblins, a farmer who visited the northwest wind and the children of Lir, who were turned into swans by their evil stepmother. Standing off to the side, McCarthy's words flowed. The dancers gave shape to those words in imaginative and amusing ways, and by hamming up the trials and triumphs of these characters. Sinopoli's veterans engaged as they put on many of these childlike personas. Laura Teeter was adorable but determined as Marika, the girl with no story until she was kidnapped. Melissa George was feisty as the farmer who wanted to tangle with the wind. And Jennifer Yackel appeared hard and heartless as the conniving stepmother and then mischievous as the adventurous boy Jack.

The other dancers filled in the tales by fashioning themselves into a gold-bearing donkey, a flock of chickens, a field of crops and a herd of unicorns. Not only did their configurations heighten the action, they also spoke of Sinopoli's ingenuity as a choreographer. Her cleverness carried the viewer along. The evening's highlight was the showing of excerpts from the uplifting "Selchie." George appeared enigmatic and gracious in the all-important opening scene. She sold the work with her elegance and thus kept eyes focused on the beautifully inspiring dance that followed.

Holding it all together, between shifts in costumes and music, was McCarthy. Her presence was so charming that one could easily forget to anticipate the dance. And even though there were moments that she spoke to the audience as if we were children, it was forgiven. McCarthy cast a Celtic spell from which no one is immune. Sinopoli must have been imbued with the luck of the Irish when she found her.

An anniversary of excellence

By Tresca Weinstein, Special to the Times Union
Sunday, January 23, 2011 Albany, NY

The Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company's performance Friday evening at The Egg marked an anniversary - the company's 20th - but it fulfilled the classic nuptial requirements.

The varied program included something old ("Selchie," from 1995), something new (the premiere of "A Gathering in Red, Departing"), something borrowed (violinist Cornelius Dufallo, playing live for two pieces) and something "Blue(s)."

The six-part "Blue(s)," also a new piece, demonstrates the range of blues music and the moods it evokes. In a section set to Eric Bibb's melancholy "Wayfaring Stranger," the dancers cluster together to lift and support one another. A loose-hipped, loose-limbed trio is a perfect fit for Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisfied." And now that she has a male dancer in the troupe, Sinopoli finally gets to do sexy, with a duet, set to Michelle Shocked's "Black Widow," in which Jennifer Yackel simultaneously seduces and dominates André Robles, wrapping herself around his shoulders and sliding into a full split on his lap.

In "A Gathering in Red, Departing," the dancers, dressed in red, seem blown like leaves or birds by soft breezes and high winds. They scatter and then draw close into sculptural trios and duets. This is classic Sinopoli, all flow and lyricism, threaded with circular compositions and gentle rebounds and transfers of weight. Dufallo's yearning, mystical composition is overlaid with a recorded soundscape that suggests a coming storm.

Dufallo also accompanied "The Walk," a lithe and lighthearted solo for Melissa George, who was particularly striking in her fluidity and clarity of line throughout the evening.

"Selchie," inspired by the Celtic myth of a seal that can shed its skin and take the form of a human, is set to foot-tapping Irish tunes and features a poetic solo for Laura Teeter. The action in the first half is close to the ground, with the dancers arching and sliding across the stage as if on the ocean floor. Then they rise and segue into movement influenced by the quick footwork, twirls and prances of traditional Irish dance.

Robles is just one of the ensemble in "Selchie," and though he handles the sensuous movement fairly well, he looks a bit out of place among the women. His tall, lean frame and angular style are better suited to "Into Dark Moods," with music by Münir Beken, which sends the dancers into isolated, sometimes tortured contractions and expansions.

The only thing missing was Claire Jacob-Zysman, who is on temporary leave due to injury. (Christy Williams and Sara Senecal filled in nicely.) Otherwise, the program was an impressive representation of the strong, appealing work that Sinopoli and her dancers have consistently produced throughout the last two decades. Happy anniversary!

Ellen Sinopoli comments on the Influence of Technology on the Arts and Religion

A lecture program commissioned by The Society for the Arts, Religion & Contemporary Culture.

Statement: How do technologies shape the human soul?

October 30, 2009 / Barnard College / New York, NY
Participant: Ellen Sinopoli, choreographer


What are the schisms that separate technology, the arts and religion?
What are their commonalities?

One of the primary purposes of religion and the arts is to allow insight into primal questions about our humanity, who we are as humans and where we fit into the larger spectrum of all life. Humans are innate questioners. Science has explained many aspects of the world that surrounds us, however the arts and spirituality often allow for a more unorthodox, mystical, insightful and alluringly fantastical journey into this exploration.

The creative process needs time to brew and to steep. The artist must understand the necessity for consistent examination and critiquing; possess a willingness to toss components into the air and reconfigure; be aware of the unexpected ideas and possibilities that sweep in and around the physical and mental process; maintain a respect for the collaborative nature of all the aesthetic elements of the art form. These multiple entities will reveal themselves in a circular as well as linear fashion.

We now possess technological possibilities that allow intricate exploration into very specific and finite elements and concepts, especially within an art form. These “studies” can afford the artist with infinite options. It is up to the artist to take this information and make the transformation into a work of art. Any type of exploration that exists purely for the sake of exploration does not necessarily enhance or produce art. If the use of technology allows deeper insight, a layering, a revelation, as the artist moves forward in the creative process, that can be exciting, that can be arresting, that can be stunning. However, it is important to keep sight of the art form being created. It is dance, music, theater, visual art, or a collaborative combination? Is the art, the technology? This must be clear in the artist’s mind and purpose. One of the most critical elements of art is the ability to communicate with the viewer both mentally and viscerally. We want to be shown a portal through which the viewer enters a spectrum that is completely enveloped by the art.

One of the things I have noticed, particularly with visual art, is how the human form has gradually disappeared. If you follow an historic perspective of this art form from the late 1800’s through to today, we see and experience the human less and less. There is abstraction, dissection and even a complete vanishing. Why is that? Has technology affected this in any way?

The mixture of spirituality, art and technology can be viewed as a collaboration. A truly successful collaboration maintains the integrity of each modality while holding on to a common goal towards the creation of a unique and revealing entity. Each cannot be there for the pure sake of itself. They are facilitators towards an end point of discovery and vision. Both spirituality and art are concerned with and affect the human spirit or soul. Can technology be part of this experience? Only if it does not lose sight of its role towards this end point. Perhaps as many questions will arise as answers, but as always, we are searching for a new portal, a new entryway into “ah ha” moments.

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Sheer modern dance strong, cohesive

Author: TRESCA WEINSTEIN, Special to the Times Union
Date: May 11, 2009

ALBANY — In its 17th annual spring concert at The Egg on Saturday, the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company presented three new works that showcased some of Sinopoli's most sophisticated, complex and varied choreography to date.

In recent years, the company has made its biggest splashes with site-specific pieces like 2006's "Spill Out!," performed on a giant scaffolding wrapped in spandex, and offbeat collaborations with visual artists, poets and musicians. By contrast, Saturday's program eschewed set, props, narrative, text – and even music with words - in favor of sheer, unadulterated modern dance, choreographed on and performed by a particularly strong and cohesive group of dancers, one of the best incarnations of the company ever seen on the Egg stage.

In accordance with The Egg's jazz theme this season, Sinopoli chose music by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and trumpeter Dave Douglas (who was in the house Saturday night) and injected the movement with jazz influence and attitude. "Brink," which the company premiered Saturday, begins with a cool, crisp solo by Claire Jacob-Zysman to the first track of Douglas' album "Moonshine," and incorporates swiveling hips, high kicks and a little bit of wiggly "funky chicken" knees.

For the most part, though, "Brink" is Sinopoli to the fourth or fifth power – grounded in her classically modern vocabulary but faster, spunkier and more layered in nuance and composition. Sinopoli uses the dimensions of both space and time deftly, varying the tone and arrangements as the music changes, stretching the shape of the dance down to the floor and then toward the sky.

The fourth of the five very different sections, set to the driving track "Kitten," is a dazzler: the dancers throw themselves across the stage, eating up space as they fly, shirttails fluttering over their tight-fitting black leggings and tops. A series of solos in the last section showcases Melissa George's quick transitions from angles to curves, Audrey Burns' showgirl kicks, Laura Teeter's quirky buoyancy and presence, Jennifer Yackel's breezy, unhurried turns and Jacob-Zysman's perfectly balanced fusion of freedom and control.

Also on the program were two works premiered last fall at a joint concert with the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra. In the flirty, high-energy "Contrapuntal Fling," set to Bernstein's "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs," the dancers are like five sassy pinup posters come to life as they leap and scissor kick, contract and release, and roll onto their backs with legs flicking upside-down in the air.

"Sepia," set to Copland's "Music for the Theatre," fittingly recalls the sculptural, emotional quality of Martha Graham's work (Copland composed the score for Graham's 1944 masterpiece, "Appalachian Spring"). Costumed in abbreviated takes on the draped tunic, the dancers form dramatically lit tableaux and then shift mood to plunge into jagged, playful solos. What fun!

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Sinopoli Brilliance Shines

Author: Wendy Liberatore, Gazette reporter
Date: May 9, 2009

Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company has achieved a new level of artistry. On Saturday night at The Egg, that was clear with the showing of her three newest dances, one of which, “Brink,” had its world premiere. It was a milestone night that marked Sinopoli finally finding her own voice and letting it sing out. It was her best program ever.

Perhaps the change was one of simple logistics. This time around, Artistic Director Sinopoli did not collaborate with another artist, something she is wont to do. Rather, she allowed music, just music, to guide her moves and eye. It was as if all these years, 17 seasons now, she stored up and then released her visions for this very night.

Some of this miraculous change can be credited to her dancers — a cohesive and capable quintet. Sinopoli has never had a chance to work with a more responsive and expressive bunch. Even still, Sinopoli is liberated and thus transformed. The entire evening was an achievement.

Take “Brink,” to the high-strung, layered music of jazz trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas. This is a cool, ultra-hip work that devoured space while expending gobs of energy. Except for the parade of solos, the dancers hardly took a breath as they tore across the stage. At times, the piece felt like an assault — on them — as they exploded like fireworks. At other parts, it looked like a challenge to the audience as they strutted, shrugging their shoulders and snapping their fingers as if daring a glance their way. Each dancer distinguished herself: Claire Jacob-Zysman was super frosty in her attitude, which contrasted with Melissa George, who exuded sensuality. Audrey Burns, Laura Teeter and Jennifer Yackel were simply bubbly and joys to witness.

“Brink” was a perfect complement to the night’s other selections, both of which premiered last November. “Contrapunctual Fling,” to music by Leonard Bernstein, was a boisterous and bright opener. Dressed in vivid colors, the dancers bopped like urbane sophisticates as the Bernstein score discharged a large, textured sound that swung from brash to foreboding. Of course, one couldn’t help but compare this Bernstein work with those of Jerome Robbins, a master choreographer of the 20th century. And Sinopoli and her dancers held their own, skating along its sounds with style. Even more terrific was “Sepia,” to the atmospheric music of Aaron Copeland. The piece opened as a prayer, with the dancers surveying the sky to the sound of a horn. The music grew and they stretched, awakening to a playful jaunt. They leapt over each other’s prone bodies and let their legs hang in the air like graceful sculptures. The lighting, by Sinopoli’s son Jason Sinopoli, was especially lovely here. Looking like the yellow dusky rays of sun, the dancers, in their silky costumes, glowed. Finishing the look was costume designer Kim Vanyo, who dressed every dance beautifully.

The night was flawless. Sinopoli and all involved should be proud.

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Capital Region Achievers: Ellen Sinopoli

Author: Mary Beth Galarneau, Capital Region Living Magazine,

Date: March 2009

Ellen Sinopoli is proof that you can successfully pursue a career in the arts. For 17 years the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company has been performing cutting edge, modern dance performances for audiences in the Capital Region. And, she has the prestigious honor of being the resident dance company at The Egg in downtown Albany.

Like many artists, the talent is innate.

“Dance was not something I chose. It chose me,” said Sinopoli, 65, who credits her parents with her passion for dance and art. Both were artists – her father a violinist, her mother a dancer.
Regardless of the type of business, Sinopoli believes passion is a must to running a successful business. In the art world, determination and relentlessness can’t hurt either. “Whatever you decide, get the very best training, advice and mentoring you can.”

Sinopoli grew up in Hartford, CT, where she was exposed to various forms of dance, such as ballet and tap, from the time she could walk. As a teen she was exposed to modern dance and found she really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that she really fell in love with it.
“I felt it was more exciting and I liked the approach to movement.”

She enrolled at Adelphi University on Long Island, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance and was fortunate enough to work with the Paul Taylor Company, the resident company at the college for two years. “The experience was amazingly inspiring,” said the 65-year old.

During college, she met her husband, Tom. His three-year stint in the military took them down south – North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. In each new state, Sinopoli taught dance at local schools. In 1969, they were back in New York and she entered the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance as a scholarship student.

She also became pregnant with her son and realized it was too difficult to continue dancing.
“I was a good dancer, but not professional. I couldn’t put the time in that I needed to start performing.” During her seven-year absence from dance, she enjoyed the early years of her son’s life and managed to earn a Master’s degree in Library Science.

Her husband’s new job relocated the family to the Boston area. Now in her early thirties, Sinopoli was ready to dance again. Through local studios she became involved with choreographers, and within a year formed a small modern dance company with another woman.

She also began teaching modern dance at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a private performing arts school in Natick, MA where she remained for 11 years. With a strong group of talented students, Sinopoli started thinking more of choreography with professional dancers.

When her son, now grown up, enrolled at NYU, the couple decided to follow suit to be closer to him. But, they didn’t stay there too long. After a year, her husband’s job relocated them in 1990, this time to the Capital Region.

And with the move, she decided that if she was going to stay within her field, she wanted to create a professional modern dance company that would allow her to work with highly trained dancers while continuing to develop her skill as a choreographer.

“I didn’t know anyone,” she said, but quickly discovered the dance community. A year later she formed The Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company. “With every major move, I have been able to reform myself and regroup and figure out what I wanted to do.”

As a choreographer, she is not one who demands the dancers learn a movement in a specific way. Rather, she prefers to utilize their ideas.

“I feel it’s a creative process and I enjoy taking ideas from them. They bring artistry to it. It is essential we work as a team.”

She currently has a group of five part-time dancers, all women in their mid-twenties. They typically come from across the country, but she has also worked with dancers from as far away as Japan. “Each year, the dancers who come to work for me bring increased artistry, training, and professionalism. They inspire me and they expand my vision.”

Her performances are known for being different and “outside of the box” and her knack for creating unique choreography was what landed her the gig at The Egg, where every year her company puts on one to two performances.

In her early years of the company, collaborations were far from her mind. But she quickly realized that working with the many other artists in area could be beneficial.

“I find that collaborations, if worked and developed intelligently and with respect for each artist’s genre, can be extraordinarily invigorating, rewarding and successful.”

Presenting concerts at the Egg is only a small part of her daily job. Sinopoli has taught dance at Russell Sage College for the past 15 years and, more recently, she began teaching at Siena. She formed a partnership with the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy where she teaches workshops, and works with between 30 to 50 local public schools by bringing creative movement workshops to them. In turn, this helps them meet their New York State Learning Standards.

“Most schools are not in a position to have a full-time dance teacher,” she said. Many times she works with the art teacher, gym teacher, or even the principal, to develop programs they’re interested in. She averages between 250-300 movement workshops a year and 8-12 concerts.
“We might do a workshop for a day and leave, or it might take several weeks.”

In her experience, Sinopoli has found that many of her students come in with a preconceived idea of what dance is about. “If one or two go on to become dancers, that’s wonderful. If the majority go on to become audience members, that’s even better.”

Her concert work also takes her up north and down south and she hopes touring nationally is in her future. Other future ambitions include expanding the company to allow for full-time dancers and allowing students to apprentice.

Finally having planted down roots, Sinopoli relishes her time spent in the Capital Region, “I have always felt that the Capital Region easily and openly embraces its artists.”

She remembers her mother once telling her how fortunate she and her father were to make a living doing what they loved. “Not everyone can make that happen,” she said. “It was not until my adult years that I truly realized how much dance defined me as a human being.”

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Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company: Engaging children through modern dance

Author: Karen Knowles, Parent & Grandparent, by the publishers of Capital Region Living Magazine, Date: Winter 2008

What do sapphire elephants, graceful gazelles, and karate kicks have in common with modern dance? They’re the inspiration behind Ellen Sinopoli’s energetic dance choreography for children and their families. As Artistic Director of the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, Sinopoli and her ensemble of five dancers engage children through their lively, interactive performances and workshops in area theatres, schools and libraries.

“Modern dance,” says Sinopoli, “is about being energized and very active. It’s filled with surprises that add depth or new ways of looking at things.” Sinopoli surprises her young audience by partnering her dancers in unexpected ways: a dancer suddenly jumps into another dancer’s arms to make a shape that is unusual, inspiring children to “think outside the box” about the possibilities of the dance and their own physical abilities.

During story time with young children at libraries, Sinopoli often uses language as a tool to teach them about dance. She shares with them the book The Human Alphabet, by Pilobolus, which illustrates dancers using their bodies to form the letters of the alphabet. She then asks the children to take the letter of their first name and see if they can make that shape with their body. By engaging them physically, Sinopoli “gives them an alternative way of learning.”

Sinopoli encourages children to think creatively and imagine ideas that are surprising, like sapphire elephants. During a workshop, Sinopoli might say to them: “close your eyes and imagine the most fantastical, amazing shape you can put your body into” without worrying if it’s possible. They then jump into the air and try to get into the shape as closely as they can by using their imagination and their bodies in unique, creative ways.

Exciting an audience about dance has been Sinopoli’s mission since she began the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company in 1991. They have been the resident company of The Egg Center for the Performing Arts for 17 seasons. In addition to local theatres, they perform in over 25 area school districts, as well as many local libraries and art centers through their Arts-in-Education program. This year the company is presenting their Northern Exposure tour in upstate New York.

“We want to incorporate everyone,” Sinopoli comments. “The responsibility of an artistic group, aside from developing their art, is to build audiences. You need to get children into these kinds of environments so they’ll have a certain kind of affinity for it, they’ll be drawn to it and be excited by it.” Sinopoli believes that it’s important to “open their eyes that these things exist and that experiencing them can be very enriching.”

In her Arts-in-Education workshops and Family Shows, Sinopoli talks with the children about where her ideas come from and invites them to participate in creating dance moves that mimic the dancer’s moves. “Animal Rhythms,” with music by percussionist Brian Melick, tells a fun story of giraffes, gibbons, and gazelles moving across the veldt. “We talk about what makes a giraffe unique—its very elegant, long graceful neck. Monkeys are like Dennis the Menace, all over the place. So I suggest things for them to look for while they’re watching the dance. But then afterwards, I say come on down, and we try some of these things. I guide them, and that way the children actually get to experience a little bit of what it feels like to be in front of an audience, to be creative with some of the moves they’re doing.”

The colorful costumes and energetic programs encourage children to respond imaginatively. “In “Relay,” we slide from one side of the room to the other, we gallop, we prance, we do something called the karate kick,” Sinopoli explains. As the dancers perform, Sinopoli uses a mike to cue the children, encouraging them to call out when they see the dancers make the same moves they’ve practiced.

Some of Sinopoli’s dances are based on folk tales from other cultures. “Dance Granny Dance,” tells the Central American story of a trickster spider through dance, music, and spoken word. The audience learns a chant, and as the dancers are performing and the spider comes on stage, the children call out the chant on Sinopoli’s cue.

At the close of a performance, Sinopoli thinks children might leave “remembering the music, or the costumes, or the monkeys, but they’re going to walk away remembering something. They didn’t have to sit for the whole performance. They were able to get up and participate. I find that that really engages them.” And they take what they’ve learned and use it in their own lives. Sometimes, after Sinopoli and her dancers have performed at a school and are leaving, they’ll see some of the children outside at recess practicing the same moves they’ve been taught.

One of her favorite memories is of a kindergartner who said after a workshop: “I’m never going to forget this day!” And that’s what art is about, says Sinopoli – “having an exciting experience that resonates with you, that helps you see things differently.”

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‘Jewels of the Dance’ a celebration

SSO makes sounds right in beat with Sinopoli movements

Author: TRESCA WEINSTEIN, special to the Times Union
Date: November 27, 2008

SCHENECTADY – The impulse to move to music is as involuntary as a heartbeat, and different melodies and rhythms seems to speak directly to different parts of our bodies. The sound of drums inspires us to move our hips, string instruments evoke gliding, dipping motions and you can’t help but bob your head to the Grateful Dead.

Choreographers and composers throughout the ages have taken advantage of that hard-wired connection to create music for dance – and dance for music – that makes a kind of inevitable, visceral sense. Sunday afternoon’s concert by the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra and the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company focused on some of these musical masterpieces in a program called “Jewels of the Dance,” which included music by Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, among others, composed specifically for dance. The second half of the concert, featuring three Sinopoli pieces, offered audiences a first-hand experience of how movement complements music and vice versa.

Close you eyes to the strains of Tchaikovsky’s waltzes from “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty” and images of tutu-ed ballerinas dance in you head - long legs and arms sweeping to the lacy, delicate strands of melody. Bernstein’s score for “West Side Story” moves from romantic interludes to almost cacophonous sections as the plot unfolds. Whether or nor you’re familiar with the dances associated with the music, you’re lifted up by the emotion and the changes of mood, and reminded again of the everyday miracle of music: the way a certain combination of notes can effortlessly evoke a spring day, a passionate embrace or a monster lurking under the bed.

Fittingly, the dances performed for the concert by Sinopoli’s five-member troupe (Audrey Burns, Melissa George, Claire Jacob-Zysman, Laura Teeter and Jennifer Yackel) were essentially embodiments of the sounds to which they were danced. With sensitivity and nuance, these three works – including two premieres - surrender to the innate desires of the body to follow the impulses called up by the music.

“(Sepia),” set to Copland’s five-movement suite, “Music for the Theater,” is classic Sinopoli choreography, tweaked for each shift in Copland’s tone – sculptural shapes, expressive, lyrical arms, extensive use of the floor and constantly changing arrangements. The dancers are a band of fairies or a Grecian frieze come to life, luxuriant in Copland’s slower, softer sections, wiggly and playful for his “Burlesque” movement.

Sinopoli’s “Into Dark Moods,” and its accompanying composition, Münir Beken’s “Pottery Shards,” are both jagged and introspective works. The dancers exist mostly in separate worlds, reflecting the music, made up of what Beken calls “meaningful and meaningless sound clusters.”

The program closed with the jazzy, buoyant “Contrapuntal Fling,” a spirited, high-kicking accompaniment to Bernstein’s “Prelude, Fugue and Riffs.” The beautifully balanced music highlighted this season’s particularly unified incarnation of Sinopoli’s company: Like notes on the staff, the five dancers, all of similar height and build, appear to be in perfect harmony.

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The Artful Mind - Cover Story - May 2008

click on link above to read complete article .......

Ellen Sinopoli to Appear in From the Horse's Mouth at Proctor's Theatre

On May 10, 2008, From the Horse’s Mouth will be presented at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady. Ellen Sinopoli has been selected as one of the 34 dancers from the Capital Region to participate in this celebratory dance/theater production that has received rave reviews from critics around the US. Premiered in 1998 at Joyce Soho in NYC, subsequent productions have featured dances of African, Flamenco, East Indian, Irish, Japanese, clogging, hip-hop, tango, jazz, tap, ballet and Broadway styles, to name a few. Join us on May 10th at 7 PM for a very unique and exciting evening! http://www.partnersindance.org

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“A performance of immediacy and beauty . . .” ~ Woodstock Times


Year in review 2006
Dance: Sinopoli provided most striking work

Author: Wendy Liberatore, Gazette reporter
Date: December 31, 2006

Lovers of dance often look to big-name artists for their fix. And though plenty of internationally known companies swung through the Capital Region these past 12 months, it was one of our local choreographers who provided the most intriguing events of 2006.

Choreographer Ellen Sinopoli, with architectural designer Frances Bronet, created “Spill Out!,” a test of architecture’s effect on movement. Their last collaboration, “Beating a Path,” which was performed in a Troy storefront, explored the same theme. But “Spill Out!” created a buzz unusual here. It’s not often that dance ticket buyers have to be turned away at the door.

The excitement was well-deserved. The work, which more than 2,500 people saw, essentially plunked five dancers into a lighted spandex box, created by Bronet and her University at Oregon students. (Think fireflies captured and darting around in an enclosed container.) The piece created a mesmerizing environment in the circular, vaulted Gasholder Building. The portable dance went on to further success, with a totally different feel, in the gym at Skidmore College and the proscenium stage at the Performing Arts Center at the University at Albany.

Top 10 shows

Here are the year’s top 10 dance concerts of 2006:


Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company in “Spill Out!” at the Gasholder Building on Sept. 8 – One of the best dance events here since 1999 when choreographer Ellen Sinopoli and architectural designer Frances Bronet collaborated on “Beating a Path.”


New York City Ballet’s Gala program at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on July 22 – An exclusive program of premieres that unleashed the dancers’ usually muted passions.


Ten Foot Five at The Egg on Oct. 21 – An unpretentious, freewheeling tap extravaganza.


Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theater in “Swan Lake” at the Palace Theatre on March 19 – A mysterious and grand rendering of the warhorse.


New York City Ballet in “Swan Lake” at SPAC on July 6 – Sofiane Sylve was a force of nature as Odile.


Battleworks at Skidmore College on Feb. 10 – Human quirks depicted in a raw, violent and engrossing manner.


Limon Dance Company at The Egg on June 9 – One of the oldest modern dance groups paired organic fluid grace with telling drama.


Ballet Hispanico at MASS MoCA on Oct. 6 – An irresistible company spiked with Latin flavor, robust personality and a burnished technique.


Paco Pena and his Flamenco Dance Company at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Jan. 27 – No one could be immune from the spell cast by guitarist Pena and his flashy and flowery dancers.


Mark Morris Dance Group at Jacob’s Pillow on Aug. 22 – 25 years old, but still gleefully anti-establishment.

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“Burning up the stage with its energy and daring” ~ Home Style Magazine


Work sets new bar
Sinopoli dancers brilliant in debut of original piece


Gazette Reviewer
Date: September 10, 2006
Section: B: Regional

TROY - Choreographer Ellen Sinopoli and architectural designer Frances Bronet have done it again. They have yanked concert dance from its proscenium stage. And this time, to the delight of viewers, dropped it in a box. Imagine trapping a firefly in a bug box and you have "Spill Out!," their collaboration that premiered Friday night in the Historic Gasholder Building in Troy. "Spill Out!" eschews the given notion that movement sculpts space. Here, with the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company members climbing and crawling in Bronet's 40x12x3 foot rectangular enclosure, the space is shaping the dance.

Of course, this is nothing new. For over 40 years, choreographers have experimented with not just site-specific works, but props that become the piece's raison d'etre. But one has to admit that "Spill Out!" is the most interesting thing to happen in dance in this region since Sinopoli and Bronet unveiled their first collaboration in 1999, "Beating a Path," in an empty Troy storefront. It's not that any one thing about "Spill Out!" is brilliant. It's just all the pieces, including the hypnotic electronic score by William Harper, make for an extraordinary evening - one that I would highly recommend.

"Spill Out!" is an experience that begins upon entering the Gasholder Building. This large brick circular structure, with its vaulted ceiling, intrigues as it reeks of a history, an undisturbed monument to the lost industrial era. In the center of this large room is Bronet's construction, framed by scaffolding and wrapped in slatted spandex. Inside are the dancers. Wearing neon lime unitards, they lounge on the slender runways.

Once everyone is seated, the music which includes the soothing chirp of peepers, cues the dancers to awaken. They do so organically, stretching their limbs by sliding them along the bars. As our vision is obstructed by the spandex walls, they seem suspended in water or air. Those one top, step high like long-legged birds. When the stop, to survey the audience, they do so with authority. They clearly have domain over their environment.

When the music shifts, which it often does abruptly, so too does the movement quality. It swings from serene to eerie to violent. Rather than caged creatures who have mastered their confines, they look like humans being laid to rest. When they rouse, shaking off their brush with death, they start to bounce off and bust through the cuts in the stretchy walls. They fling their bodies off the spandex which ricochets them backwards with frightening force.

Finally, they emerge from their cell, like toddlers who discovered how to escape their playpen. While we celebrate their liberation, once the dancers slip out of the box, the spell that "Spill Out!" casts is sadly broken. Regardless, there is much to praise, including the video by Ralph Pascucci and costumes by Kim Vanyo. The pieces runs 65 minutes and it feels like 30.

Certainly, "Spill Out!" has some buzz. Friday's show was sold out. Many patrons stood lining the walls.

The piece will remain there until Sept. 17. It will then move to Skidmore College and the University at Albany. However, it would be wise not to miss it at the Gasholder Building. The juxtaposition of a historic building to modern art, with a work about architecture and dance, makes quite the impression.

Wendy Liberatore (395-3199 or at wendy@dailygazette.com)
Copyright (c) 2006 The Daily Gazette Co. All Rights Reserved.

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“The choreography, dancers and set design have the audience capturing, losing and recapturing a multitude of fascinating and absorbing oscillations”
~ Chatham Courier


‘Spill Out!’ is rich with visual delights

Author: Tresca Weinstein, Times Union Reviewer
Date: September 9, 2006

It’s a good thing that “Spill Out!,” the new collaboration between choreographer Ellen Sinopoli and architect Frances Bronet, will be around for a while. The 65-minute piece, which premiered Friday evening at the historic Gasholder Building in Troy, will be performed 10 more times over the next month – at the Gasholder Building, Skidmore College and the University at Albany – and it’s so rich with visual delights that even if you went to every single performance, it’s a good bet that each time you’d see something you hadn’t noticed before.

If you’re only going to see “Spill Out!” once, however, then see it at the Gasholder Building. The vast domed structure is a perfect foil for the massive rectangular structure that serves as the five dancers’ habitat. The building’s curving walls and faded brick contrast beautifully with Bronet’s set, a streamlined rectangular structure of steel and bright blue spandex that stands 12 feet high and 40 feet long. William Harper’s mysterious, evocative score for the piece seems to expand to fill the space. David Yergan’s lighting design casts the dancers’ shadows on the walls like gorgeous, animated cave paintings. And Ralph Pascucci’s video projections, giant images of the dancers thrown across the spandex “screen,” add yet another layer.

Sinopoli’s choreography for the five dancers – Jamien Cvjetnicanin, Melissa George, Claire Jacob-Zysman, Sarah Pingel and Laura Teeter – starts out slow, with the dancers inside the structure, their bodies striated by the lines of blue spandex that enclose them. Glowing in lime green costumes designed by Kim Vanyo, they come out of their slumber like winged creatures emerging from chrysalises. Sometimes they occupy separate cells of the structure; other times they cling together, making abstract multi-limbed shapes within the geometric lines of the set.

The dancers seem wonderfully at home on the structure; it’s their shelter and their playground. They climb and swing all over it, balance atop it and bounce playfully on the spandex ribbons, which shimmer and ripple like water. Pingel and George have a terrific duet in which they turn and bend and bounce, one on each side of the structure, reflecting each other’s moves. In Teeter and Cvjetnicanin’s pas de deux at the very top of the set, they stretch and balance together, their conjoined shadows duplicated again and again on the walls.

Despite the specificity of its set, “Spill Out!” encompasses a variety of tones and moods, moving from angular edges to soft shapes, from driving rhythms and choreography to adagios and lighthearted movement. Somehow Bronet and Sinopoli, with the help of numerous contributors and collaborators, have managed to weave together many elements to create a unified piece that not only intrigues but also transports us to somewhere we’ve never been before.

Tresca Weinstein, a local freelance writer, is a regular contributor to the Times Union

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“Sinopoli locates contagious exuberance in sharply defined movement performed by dancers who are clearly enjoying themselves” ~ Staten Island Advance


“Mastery of dance’s theatrical language” ~ The Gazette

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