Review: Sounds of a Sleepless Night | Simple Sparrow Dance Company | MCL Grand Theater – Lewisville

Night Moves

Simple Sparrow Dance Company leaves us wanting more in Sounds of a Sleepless Night.

by published Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sounds of a Sleepless Night
Yet they persist, surfacing in such places as Plano, Grapevine, Denton, and now Lewisville. Among these newcomers is Simple Sparrow Dance Company and though it has been around for two years, Friday night’s performance at the MCL Grand Theater was my first glimpse. As for the name, it suits the company: unpretentious, eager and swift.

Director and choreographer Jessie Rosenberger knows how to keep dances short and brisk, making a point and then moving on, so that Sounds of a Sleepless Night flew by in a flash. Of the nine works on the program, only one lost its punch.

The opening work, Let Us Be Brave, showed Ms. Rosenberger’s gift for very simple structure and big, bold movement. Eight dancers take over the large, empty space with a rush of sideways jumps, active arm movement propelling spiraling turns. Fanned out to begin with, the dancers then crisscrossed the floor, and the dance ended with them forming a large circle.

Several of the dances that followed were so brief they resembled haiku, the images vivid and the feelings understated. In Animus Vox (Courage Cry) Christian Bergin, Katrina Brown and Macy Loucks walk slowly forward in a diagonal line, and that sense of spatial geometry persists throughout, with dynamic up-and-over turns and an end where the three shoot out limbs at different angles to resemble the spokes of bikes left willy-nilly.

Perhaps the most poetic dance was Swan Song, where Ms. Loucks, Nicole Jordan and Ms. Rosenberger appear in dim light, clad in heavily pleated skirts and tiny tops of sheer fabric. They gather up their skirts and glide gracefully about, keeping their distance. To the minimalist, repetitive music of Metamorphosis by Daniel Bernard Roumain, there is only the barest of hint of swan creatures, with slow, undulating arms, a sudden gathering together to dance a pas de basque, and then a folding over on the ground, like birds closing their wings.

This emphasis on endings—often quiet and subdued—gave every work a finished air. But A Place in the Sun, though it ended with a dramatic pitch forward with hands stretched far out on the floor, was anything but subdued. Katrina Brown and Heather Gall were like starbursts, every action a surprise.

There were yet more bursts of energy in Dare You to Move, quiet time in Moonlight and Weather That I’m Under, and then, to finish things off with a flourish, the appropriately titled …and now for something completely different.

Wearing outrageous gear, exaggerated eye make-up and spiky hairdos, eight dancers brandish poles like weapons, then abandon them quickly, the better to jerk and twist, hip-hop style. As for the ending, it was brilliant. To the music of Off With Your Head/Thriller by the Glee cast, dancers circle up close and toss their heads back with their eyes so wide open they all but come out of their sockets.

Short is good, and even better when it leaves you with a taste for more.

◊ Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.

Dance review: Simple Sparrow Dance Company soars with clever, intimate debut

By MANUEL MENDOZA / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Published: 14 November 2010 03:23 AM

ADDISON — In an auspicious debut Saturday at the tiny, studio-like setting of the Stone Cottage, Simple Sparrow Dance Company began building a following, 22 people at a time.

The choreography ­ primarily by artistic director Jessica Rosenberger ­ played cleverly with gravity and its unbalancing effects on the body. In the first of four weekend shows, the audience watched from a single row of seats along one side of the light-wood-lined rectangle.

That lack of distance between performers and viewers, together with basic lighting that simply illuminated the room, created an intimacy that emphasized the casual virtuosity of the four-woman company out of Denton. To complete the low-key picture, Rosenberger, Molly Davis, Macy Loucks and Elise Wendorf wore the same clothes they might rehearse in, augmented only by gauzy gray skirts.

Calling the show “The Art of Serendipity,” Rosenberger had audience members pick which of the eight shorts works on the bill Simple Sparrow would perform next. At Saturday’s late afternoon show, the group dances wound up bunched near the beginning, the solos toward the end.

The pieces often began with the barefoot dancers closed off: lying face down, sitting with their backs to the audience or ­ in Rosenberger’s duet Kaleidoscope ­ with her and Wendorf bent forward and touching the floor. That position obscured their faces. From there, the pair slid side-to-side in unison before eventually raising themselves up to test their balance in new ways.

This cool and relaxed movement style usually built from the deliberate articulation of small arm gestures to athletic turns and leaps as pop songs from such artists as Ben Harper and Sigur Ros grew in intensity. The dancers never appeared to get ahead of themselves, remaining in the moment rather than anticipating what came next. Serendipity indeed.