Thursday, March 24, 2016

Gibney Dance celebrates an anniversary...and its home

Alexeya Eyma-Manderson (left) with Nigel Campbell
in a duet from Gina Gibney's Time Remaining (2003)
(photo: Scott Shaw)

Duets mean everything to choreographer Gina Gibney: evolving moments of human drama compressed, anchored, revealed and displayed in her work like new gems. This season, with a program entitled Duet, Gibney celebrates 25 years of dancemaking by overlapping and interweaving duets from her evening-length dances--from 1992's Landings to a preview of coming attractions.

The unique presentation takes advantage of Gibney's command of a sprawl of redesigned space at 280 Broadway, Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, opened in 2014 at the site of the former Dance New Amsterdam.


Amy Miller (above) with Natsuki Arai
in a duet from Coming From Quiet (1998)
(photo: Scott Shaw)

The hour-long suite of dances moves performers and audience from a tiny downstairs studio lab to two larger studios and two transitional spaces--Gibney's gallery and a long corridor connecting the familiar Gibney floor plan to the rest of the building and a bank of elevators. Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of a rather fraught ensemble derived from 2013's Dividing Line, a chime suddenly sounded, and an elevator door opened onto the floor. Watching from the far end of the corridor, the audience could clearly see the leading edge of a plastic bag swing out and quickly draw back. Someone inside, spying several barefooted, black-clad bodies scattered around the floor, thought twice about venturing out!

Gibney's scheme for Duets has the flexibility to both allow for and recover from a possibly mood-shattering, if amusing, incident like that. Even the shuttling of audience from place to place can't diffuse the focused atmosphere created by seasoned veterans Natsuki Arai and Amy Miller along with impressive newcomers Nigel Campbell, Alexeya Eyma-Manderson, Devin Oshiro and Brandon Welch. I most enjoyed anything involving Campbell and Eyma-Manderson, two well-matched deities with lightning and intelligence crackling between them. Gibney's intricate, never less than human interactions--whether assertive, volatile, sexy, tender or contemplative--reward men and women with physical strength, range and genuine, one-to-one responsiveness. Duet offers ample opportunity to watch a promising, well-chosen team go to work.

Amy Miller (left) with Brandon Welch
in a preview from a work-in-progress, Folding In
(photo: Scott Shaw)

Duets continues through Saturday, March 26 with performances at 8pm each evening plus a 5pm matinee on Saturday. But don't delay, because ticketing is limited. The availability of chair seating varies from location to location. Dress comfortably for possible standing-room-only or cushion seating and cool temperatures. A complimentary coat check is provided. For information and tickets, click here.

280 Broadway (enter at 53A Chambers Street), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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