Friday, November 15, 2013

Gina Gibney premieres "Dividing Line"

Two Gibney dancers: Amy Miller (l) and Natsuki Arai
(photo by Julieta Cervantes)

In the dance world, we're now so used to thinking of Gina Gibney as the force behind the Union Square's bustling, multi-studio Gibney Dance Center, that it's possible to forget how carefully she tends her own art. Dividing Line--her first new piece in a few years, now at Florence Gould Hall--serves as a reminder of her appetite for making. Her long-running collaboration with two distinguished artists--composer Son Lux (aka Ryan Lott) and lighting designer Kathy Kaufmann--continues to be intuitive and fruitful. And Gibney Dance, her evolving ensemble--now a sextet with equal numbers of women and men--renders her formal ideas with discipline and stamina.

Dividing Line, therefore, makes its mark. With this hour-plus work, Gibney roars back onto her stage, and her claim and ferver are best represented by one dancer in particular--Amy Miller. To acknowledge Miller as soloist, duet partner or the fire-starter within any group moment is not to deny anyone else's contribution to the work. Instead, I want to recognize Miller now for embodying the place towards which Gibney Dance is heading.
Amy Miller
(photo courtesy of Amy Miller)

The line initially established at the front of the stage by all six dancers (Natsuki Arai, Javier Baca, Jake Bone, Zachary Leigh Denison, Jennifer McQuiston Lott and Miller), and re-established at work's end, tells us to pay attention. Something special and heightened will happen here in the space between two clear marks in time. And it does. The line gives way to a space churning with the transformative energy of wind, water and human pulse. Son Lux's string quartet, performed live by the thrilling American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), contains lots and lots of lines that divide like blades swooshing and slashing through air. Gibney and her dancers, with precision of form and timing, meet the composer and his musicians edge for edge.

None edgier than Miller, though. When this dancer moves, she's positively multidimensional, her effort and her boyish pixy persona making the eccentricities of the movement pop. That's what Gibney needs and may one day lead her team to achieve: dancing that brings out the mix of confidence, strangeness and rigor in her aesthetic.

With costumes by David C. Woolard

American Contemporary Music Ensemble includes artistic director Clarice Jensen (cello), Caleb Burhans (viola, substituting for Caitlin Lynch on opening night), Ben Russell (violin) and Caroline Shaw (violin).

Dividing Line continues tonight and tomorrow evening with performances at 7:30pm. For information and tickets, click here.

Florence Gould Hall
French Institute Alliance Française
55 East 59th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues), Manhattan

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