Roman Sketches (2007) is a five-part suite set to the music of American impressionist composer Charles Griffes (1884-1920). The work creates a lush synthesis of lighting and scenic design, music and choreography. Inspired by the fin de siécle spectacles of Loie Fuller, this work expands the genre to include a set-piece of six moveable mirrors which reflect and distort the brilliantly-illuminated, rippling costumes of the three dancers.
The suite begins with Griffes’ elegant and sensual “The White Peacock.” Here, the mirrors create a jewel-box setting to crystallize Sperling’s fanning and fluttering motions. In “Fountains,” the three dancers weave and rush through the mirrors, appearing, disappearing, multiplying into fragments, and changing colors as they swirl. For “Clouds,” two dancers glide around each other and shift shapes in sky-like patterns. The climactic coda is “Night Winds” in which Sperling works up a tempest with her gigantic wings while hovering on a box containing a light within. The under lighting—one of Fuller’s signature innovations—creates stunning visual effects, ranging from a haunting glow, to brilliant shocks of color.
CHOREOGRAPHY: JODY SPERLING
MUSIC: Charles Griffes / PIANO: Jeffrey Middleton
LIGHTING: David Ferri / COSTUMES: Michelle Ferranti
SCENIC DESIGN: Philip Drew, with Rob Dutiel
“a vision of glory” —Elizabeth Zimmer, Gay City News
“[Sperling’s] costume swirled as light shining from beneath her changed hues until waves of colors and tides of fabrics engulfed her, making her body seem to dematerialize.” —Jack Anderson, New York Theatre Wire