The final entry in the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra’s “Evening of Symphonic Dance” didn’t feature any dancers, but they weren’t necessary.
By the time Music Director Ryan Haskins got to Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances,” the audience was more than able to visualize how someone might move across the stage in front of the orchestra.
That’s because members of the New York-based Dance Heginbotham did a great job suggesting how a piece might be interpreted in two earlier selections.
A group of five moved fluidly across the stage during Ernst von Dohnanyi’s “Serenade for String Trio,” resembling notes on a staff. Three (in black and white) provided a structure for two (in red and blue) to populate. Choreographed by Dance Heginbotham’s founder, John Heginbotham, the “Angels’ Share” never stopped moving. Indeed, when one dancer would hold (or exit), another would be there to pick up the thread. In a taped piece before the performance, Heginbotham said he was unable to attend because he was choreographing a Broadway revival of “Oklahoma!”
Moves in “Angels’ Share” could easily be adapted for that show. Some of the synchronization looked like it would work in any number of “Oklahoma!” dances.
The five – John Eirich, Lindsey Jones, Courtney Lopes, Victor Lozano and Macy Sullivan – effortlessly sewed together the three movements in Dohnanyi’s work. The orchestra was as crisp as the dancers, helping them demonstrate how the two art forms unite.
A second piece, commissioned for the Sioux City organization, used Igor Stravinsky’s “Circus Polka” as its jumping-off point. Stravinsky wrote the bold, brassy music for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. It was designed for 50 elephants and 50 dancers at Madison Square Garden and, you can imagine, it was meant to be a big, oversized deal. Stravinsky included his own nudges in the four-minute work and got the intended reaction. In Sioux City, Heginbotham choreographed it for one and called his interpretation “Peanut.” Sullivan, dressed in a hula-hoop dress and hot pink shorts, danced as if there were 50 elephants behind her. She strutted with commitment, finding the humor the composer intended it to have. Should Broadway revive “Barnum” (or adapt “Greatest Showman”), Heginbotham might be a good name to toss out as choreographer.
By the time Haskins was ready for the Rachmaninoff, the guest artists had planted enough seeds to suggest what they might do during a third collaboration. The music also gave nice moments to pianist John Walker, principal flute Brian Allred and the entire percussion section.
Also outstanding: Concertmaster Te-Chiang Liu, who opened the evening with two Bach pieces dedicated to the memory of Dr. Lee Van Voorhis and Janet Wanzek, two longtime orchestra supporters.
Interestingly, the night wasn’t wall-to-wall dance, but a suggestion of what the two art forms could do with each other. An extensive night of Dance Heginbotham works is definitely in order. Saturday’s concert was a tasty appetizer.