Thursday, November 13, 2014

Daria Faïn and Gillian Walsh share a Gibney DoublePlus

Daria Faïn, above and below, in is as if alone
(photos: Alex Escalante)

Gibney Dance Center's DoublePlus performance series, curated by invited dance artists, continues to fascinate. Last evening's show, repeating tonight and through Saturday at 7:30pm, presented the work of Daria Faïn and Bessie-nominee Gillian Walsh, curated by RoseAnne Spradlin.

Walsh, in Hasbro™ Procedures took the measure of the theater's bare space, treating it as the board of a kind of board game involving regular and formally regulated repositioning of game pieces/ dancers, it would seem, in accord with a script consisting of numbers that the dancers softly recite as they execute affectless steps, hops, lunges, shifts of weight and redirections. Notably, Walsh and her three dancers--Maggie Cloud, Mickey Mahar and Nicole Daunic--mostly do not face audience members; they never directly engage them. Nevertheless, some watchers might find themselves swiftly reeled in by this curious play.

Where, for instance, is the number 3? When I gradually became aware of its absence in the litany, I listened hard for it, subsequently hearing it intoned, I believe, only once. I have no idea what relevance that absence and momentary insertion might have, but I note it here to show that there are ways to get caught up in the gentle and esoteric nature of the game. Awareness comes along in unassuming moments like that. I have no idea what other bits and bytes of information my conscious perception might have missed.

Scenes from Gillian Walsh's Hasbro™ Procedures (photos: Alex Escalante) 

What a pleasure, what a revelation, to witness Faïn performing solo. The choreographer--who, along with poet-architect Robert Kocik, usually plays with big choruses of moving vocalists/vocalizing movers--here inhabits a roomy space and a dance on her own, and she is beautiful.

The piece, is as if alone, seems like a rite of emergence, starting with husky, dry sounds issuing from Faïn's mouth as she very slowly walks along the dance mirror at one side of the space, solo but doubled in the glass. Dressed in a long, silvery skirt and black halter top, under the cooling gleam of Kryssy Wright's elegant lighting, she looks both severe and glamorous. The feeling is "Take this as seriously as I do." She starts to sound like the north wind--serious, indeed.

She pinches, stretches, coughs and pumps syllables and vowels, enjoys a few variations on the word "wow," her arching, crouching body expressing itself in voice and enigmatic gesture. A more dancey segment finds perhaps her remembering to explore the interior of the theater's space, the middle space. There she shows us the beauty of going off center. Her maturity and her way with timing, with pacing, with shaping, lends itself to grace and power and strangeness. There are spectral visitations from Graham and, I suspect, infusions from the East--Japanese theater, Sufi spinning. And sometimes, a sentence might arise, fully formed, from Kocik's text.

With no room, nothing could have gone wrong for the better.

Like the absence/presence of the number 3 in Walsh's game, these words hook into me and stay.

For more information and tickets for this program and future weeks of DoublePlus shows, click here.

Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis
Performing Arts Center
280 Broadway (enter at 53A Chambers Street), Manhattan

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