During the past ten years, Jody Sperling has created a portfolio of dance works that calls for action to protect and preserve the environment. She has traveled to the Arctic to dance on disappearing ice. Her dances embodying the kinetic effect of wind have garnered admiration from scientists. As eco-artist-in-residence for the New York Society for Ethical Culture, Sperling’s Time Lapse Dance has now unveiled a new work, “Arbor,” to honor the American Elm, mere steps from one of North America’s largest remaining stands of the trees in Manhattan’s Central Park. At the premiere, Sperling and her company of six dancers were joined by ecoacoustic composer Matthew Burtner, and a string quartet from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.[…]
“Arbor” is an earnest tribute to its subject, yet nothing can match the pure spectacle of whirling silk that is Sperling’s solo, “Piece for a Northern Sky” to end the show. From 2016, the piece features a pure white silk cape originally created by Anais Romand and Anne Blanchard for the film “The Dancer,” based on Fuller’s life and choreographed by Sperling. The sheer volume of silk suggested a frothy white ocean wave. I can only imagine the weight and wildness of centrifugal force Sperling managed by waving and dipping her arms, extended by slender sticks to a wingspan of 12 feet. The rippling fabric floated up in a column to form the bugle of a cala lily, while stage lights beamed a glimmer of green onto the folds. Then in a psychedelic transformation, a giant peony opened in full circular bloom, with overlapping layers of silk highlighted in a pink glow—a dazzling representation of the Northern Lights. Burtner’s music became meditative and Sperling twirled and twirled like a Sufi dancer in a trance, then stopped on a dime—the evening a perfect blend of education and art.