The final piece in the final concert of the Sarasota Contemporary Dance 2015-16 season, “Every Little Movement” by the great choreographer Gerri Houlihan, is stunning. Set to a Mendelssohn concerto, it presents an elegant and often humorous visual representation of the music, moving fluidly through the disparate moods of the piece.
There’s no discernible narrative to the Houlihan’s work, but it nonetheless requires acting, of a sort, as well as meticulous movement from the company’s dancers, and they’re up to the demands. A highlight on opening night was the long and unspeakably gorgeous solo by Xiao Xing Yang Dancigers. If you appreciate dance at all, you find yourself wishing the solo would never end, and be disappointed when it inevitably does. But when Dancigers exits and the other six dancers in the piece re-enter, the piece offers delights of a different and more light-hearted sort. (Dancigers and Jahrel Thompson perform the solo in alternating performances.)
“Every Little Movement” takes up the entire second act of the program, which runs through Sunday at the Cook Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts in Sarasota. The quality of the five pieces in the program is inconsistent, and Houlihan’s dance is the most thoroughly captivating, but each piece is worthy of attention.
The concert’s called “Evolving/Revolving,” and that title is meant to reflect the program’s emphasis on works by young choreographers, plus some pieces by established artists. Most of the pieces have been performed before by Sarasota Contemporary dance (mostly under its previous name, Fuzion Dance Artists).
There’s a noticeable difference in the quality of the work by the newer choreographers. The second piece, “Run,” by Crystal Edwards and Sarah Caldabaugh, is an energetic and attractive work for two dancers (Melissa Coleman and Melissa Hull on opening night, alternating with Mary Allison and Natalie Robison). It’s fun and attractive, with a great percussive score by Nanafushi Kodo, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
A highlight on opening night was the long and gorgeous solo by Xiao Xing Yang Dancigers. If you appreciate dance at all, you find yourself wishing the solo would never end.
It’s followed by company member Rolando Cabrera’s “Three Accents,” a hip-hop piece for three male dancers (Cabrera, Benjamin Howe and Rick Levine). It’s entertaining, but you’ve seen it all before. Sometimes the music (it’s set to four very different pieces of music) and the videos projected behind the dancers overwhelm the movement.
Other than Houlihan’s piece, the peaks of the evening are Erin Fletcher’s comic opening number, “La-la-la Diva,” and Leymis Bolanos Wilmott’s “Splint Departure,” which closes the first act.
Fletcher is SCD’s resident choreographer, and her piece her is a very clever and very funny look at an opera company (apparently meant to be a pretty bad one) staging “The Barber of Seville,” with the performers over-emoting and trying to upstage each other. It’s impressive that Fletcher would even attempt to turn opera into dance, and she does it with highly entertaining results.
Most of the pieces have been performed before by Sarasota Contemporary dance (mostly under its previous name, Fuzion Dance Artists).
Bolanos Wilmott, the artistic director of SCD, has created a work of elegiac serenity in “Splint Departure.” The music comes from composer Ennio Morricone, performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and that combination — the movie-theme quality of Morricone’s writing with the classical style of Ma’s playing — creates an ethereal backdrop for the choreography and the beautiful dance of the five-person cast.
The best pieces in the program are the longest, and the lesser pieces are short and passably fulfilling. Overall, “Evolving/Revolving” is a powerful season finish for a company that continues to offer some distinctive colors to the area’s performing arts palette.
Details: Through June 5, Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $46. 941-359-0099, sarasotacontemporarydance.org.