Dance of the Elements (2002)


A suite inspired by the mesmerizing spectacles of Loie Fuller (1862-1928). Sperling furls her enormous winged costume–designed by Michelle Ferranti from 100 yards of white silk—into eddying spiral shapes. The moving fabric catches luminescent rays, orchestrated by Bessie Award-winning lighting designer David Ferri, that evoke the elements Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. The hypnotic visuals are set to piano music by Ravel, Chopin, De Falla, and others performed by Jeffrey Middleton. (15 minutes)

CHOREOGRAPHY: Jody Sperling / DANCER: Jody Sperling
MUSIC: Various Composers / PIANO: Jeffrey Middleton
LIGHTING: David Ferri / COSTUME: Michelle Ferranti


“captivating” —Gia Kourlas, The New York Times

“spell-binding . . . astonishing.”Wendy Liberatore, The Daily Gazette

“Sperling surrounds herself with rippling waves and creates a variety of images derived from nature. She steps daintily from a chrysalis of silk, like a fairy balancing on the lip of a bell-flower, and as the gossamer material changes color under the stage lights, she mimics effects of water, wind and fire.”—Robert Johnson, The Star-Ledger

“enchanting . . . Ms. Sperlings’ elaborate silk drapery produced a billowing wake set to Ravel’s “Une Barque sur l’océan.” Beneath a black light, she manifested orchid-like floral shapes or else revolved quickly in circles like the eye of a storm. As she transitioned, previous movements would ripple toward the hem in physical echoes.” —Aeron Kopriva, The New York Sun

“Water was gorgeous, as she churned the silk into a storm at sea, then calmed it into gentle swells.” —Tom Phillips, Danceviewtimes

“Encased in a silken costume that shimmered in David Ferri’s lighting, Ms. Sperling summoned up spirits of earth, water, wind, fire and ether by manipulating the fabric so its folds swirled, billowed and soared in delightful metamorphoses.” —Jack Anderson, The New York Times

“Jody Sperling’s engrossing solo program at Joyce Soho hinged on transformation. . . . In ‘Earth,’ she’s a woman with vast wings; in ‘Water,’ she goes deeper into metamorphosis, roiling and swirling, engulfed in silk foam; in ‘Wind,’ [Loie] Fuller’s famous lily image becomes a small tornado. ‘Fire’ begins low, with red-lit fabric rising. In the waltz of ‘Ether,’ we see Sperling’s body again—the woman within.” —Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice

“In ‘Earth’, Sperling’s spacious choreography suggested swooping hills and shadowed valleys as she advanced and receded with the cape an all encompassing cover. ‘Water’ had a surging, eddying quality which moved through three or four differently rippling levels. ‘Fire’ started low on the ground and moved from side to side, gradually expanding its reach. The skippy, lightly trod ‘Ether’ ended with the dancer completely disappearing inside a swirling calyx of fabric.” —Rita Felciano, Danceviewwest

“And then, there’s always history to teach us a little humility. . . . Sperling’s The Elements, which she calls a “continuation” of Fuller’s work, evoked flames and foaming surf, rippling waters and floating creatures of the air. I thought Sperling’s expansive musicality and expert manipulation of her enormous costume were perfectly analogous to the solution today’s technological sophisticates are still searching for—not just a merger of dancing and media but a transfiguration of both.” —Marcia Siegel, The Portland Phoenix