EXPLORING PHYSICS AND DANCE
The UAlbany Performing Arts Center, operating under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences, is pleased to present the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company (ESDC) in two public events resulting from a semester long collaboration with UAlbany professor Keith Earle. Choreographer Sinopoli and physicist Earle have been exploring the interplay of dance and physics, focusing on a conversation of the arts and sciences while studying side by side the principles of physics and modern dance. Together, they have created a work that is an exploration of the scientific and artistic process.
On Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Earle, Sinopoli and her company of dancers will present a lecture/demonstration entitled An Interplay of Dance and Physics at 2:45pm. In this free event, the two collaborators will show and tell about their experiences.
Culminating the entire project, the company will present a full evening performance entitled ChoreoPhysics: Seeing the Science, Envisioning the Invisible on Friday, April 25, 2014 at 7:30pm which includes the premiere of Earle and Sinopoli’s new work traversing the intersection of scholarship and the arts. Currently untitled, the debut piece utilizes more than a dozen laws of physics as a means to discover and develop movement, patterns and motivation that deeply intertwine the science with the dance.
“I’ve enjoyed working with Ellen and the dancers to develop this piece,” says Earle. “It’s more than me doling out sips from the fire hose of knowledge. Sometimes, I’ve presented a concept to them that they have subsequently developed and, at other times, I’ve been presented with a dance phrase that represents their understanding of a concept on which I have then been able to comment.”
“For me, the words and concepts of science often feel like a foreign language and I have difficulty deciphering the complexity of the meanings,” says Sinopoli. “However, being able to probe and dissect these ideas from the perspective of movement alongside Keith has gradually led to clarity, illumination and discovery and now the creation of a new dance. Teaming up with him has been challenging and rewarding in so many ways.”
Both collaborators agree that aesthetics have played an important role in the process. “I’m looking for a scientifically coherent presentation of a concept,” claims Earle while Sinopoli’s motivation is finding “an artistically captivating expression of an idea through movement.” The
two have found that their impetuses, while different, have been extremely compatible and compelling.
Also on the evening program are several of the company’s acclaimed repertory works which inherently illuminate scientific principles and have been selected and studied by Professor Earle and his students. Included are Contrapuntal Fling (2008) in which the dancers artistically are inspired by the music of Leonard Bernstein while scientifically the piece can be seen as a phase transition where the correlated paths of the dancers represent significant density fluctuations. Recently premiered at The Egg, Continuum (2014) captures the duality of pushing forward while never truly leaving your origin point, while for Earle viewed it from the perspective of the 'Big Bang' where small asymmetries in the observed cosmic microwave background are attributed to the echo of gravitational waves, an exciting topic in contemporary observational astronomy. Inspired by the six individual dancers in the company, Solo Flight (2013) captures their distinct personalities but also hints at an interpretation in terms of the dynamic modes of motion in a fluid. From a scientific perspective, the more languid movements represent dynamic modes associated with longer length and time scales while the more rapid motions capture fast time scale motions (for instance, the flexing of a protein) as opposed to the slower overall tumbling. Lastly, Filament (2012) was already scientifically inspired when it was created to replicate the many facets of these thread-like structures evidenced in physics as well as electrical engineering, astronomy and biology.
Since 1991, Ellen Sinopoli has created over 70 dances and collaborated with over 25 artists of distinct genres and backgrounds including architectural designer Frances Bronet, sculptor Jim Lewis, visual artist Calvin Grimm, storyteller Bairbre McCarthy, flamenco guitarist Maria Zemantauski, author Pleasant DeSpain, video artist Ralph Pascucci and composer Hilary Tann. Previously, she has collaborated with individuals from the UAlbany community including composer Joel Chadabe (Professor Emeritus, Music Department), clarinetist Don Byron (former Visiting Professor, Music Department), poet Pierre Joris (Professor Emeritus, English Department) and visual artist Thom O’Connor (Professor Emeritus, Art Department).
Professor Earle’s research is focused on the application and development of quasioptical techniques to improve the sensitivity of very high frequency electron spin resonance spectrometers for the study of fundamental processes in biological and physical-inorganic systems. He holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics from Cornell University and has been on the faculty at UAlbany for eight years. Beyond the scientific world, Earle has extensive experience in performance as a singer which has informed his teaching as well as helped in this collaborative process with Sinopoli and her dancers.
The Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company is the resident company of The Egg in Albany. The 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. Past performances at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center include Spill Out!, an evening length work exploring movement in a structure, in 2006 as part of the Architecture Semester and Branches of Words, a program of live music, spoken word and contemporary dance celebrating the Persian poetry of Hafez, in 2010.
The semester long collaboration is part of the New York State Presenters Network Presenter-Artist Partnership Project made possible through a regrant from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support has been provided by the UAlbany Foundation and University Auxiliary Services.
Through a generous grant from the Grandma Moses Fund administered by the UAlbany Alumni Association, photographer Gary Gold has been documenting the work of choreographer, physicist and dancers. Images from the project will be utilized and on display at both events.
With over 35 years of experience, Gold has produced award-winning work for government, industry and business and has always been involved with the arts and the arts community in the Capital District. A UAlbany alum, he has worked with many local artists to document their work. As an outgrowth of his commercial photography business and his continued support of studio and performing artists of this region, he provides his services to the Albany Symphony Orchestra and the University Art Museum.
Both events take place at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus. No tickets are required for the April 22 lecture/demonstration. Advance tickets for the evening performance on April 25 are $15 for the general public and $10 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty-staff. Tickets purchased on the day of the show are $20 for the general public and $15 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty-staff. For reservations and further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.