Ghosts (2008)

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With her trio Ghosts, Sperling expands on more than a decade of work inspired by modern-dance pioneer Loie Fuller. Sperling transports Fuller’s vocabulary of billowing undulations and iridescent illuminations into an experimental 21st-century context. Through the use of light, shadow, media projections and technological costuming, this new work plays with the elusiveness of physical presence.

In one electrifying section, Sperling wears a suit of LED lights that she flashes on-and-off under a cape of sheer silk. (View LED test VIDEO.) In other sections, the projections of bodily interior structures–eg. nerve, bone and blood cell tissues–cast intricate patterns on swirling silk costumes. The dance is set to an original score for piano, cello and percussion by composer Quentin Chiappetta. The music draws on gamelan rhythms and was performed live at the premiere courtesy a grant from the American Music Center’s Live Music for Dance Program. (22 minutes)

CHOREOGRAPHY: Jody Sperling
DANCERS: Emily Lutin, Andrea Skurr & Jody Sperling
MUSIC: Quentin Chiappetta
LIGHTING: David Ferri
COSTUMES: Michelle Ferranti
LED COSTUME TECHNOLOGISTS: Jenny Chowdhury & Alex Kowal
SCENIC DESIGN: Roger Hanna

“Three swirlers work the large Ailey stage, first dancing in white unitards so we can observe how their simple motions are augmented by yards of sheer fabric . . . Roger Hanna’s scenic projections evoke everything from dazzling red op art patterns to a snowstorm to colliding solar systems. Are we watching blossoms or electron microphotographs of dangerous viruses? It hardly matters as they create a mysterious environment for Sperling’s twists and turns, her white wraiths, her figures draped with strings of flashing lights.” -Elizabeth Zimmer, Metro

“Sperling has mastered Fuller’s art of manipulating fabric via long concealed wands, and, even in this hi-tech era, it’s wonderful to see her create swirling, evolving forms that might have been captured by a time-lapse camera. In her new Ghosts, David Ferri’s changeable lighting magnifies shadows cast by Emily Lutin, Andrea Skurr, and Sperling (a stock Fuller effect), while Roger Hanna’s projections cast microscopic forms onto their constantly moving costumes.”-Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice

Ghosts was developed in part through residencies at Vassar College and The Paul Robeson Galleries/Rutgers University–Newark. It was made possible in part with funds from The American Music Center Live Music for Dance Program and The Harkness Foundation for Dance.

photo by Julie Lemberger