Saturday, March 14, 2015

"First Move," a new work by Ori Flomin at Gibney Dance

Ori Flomin probably could do without showing us the printouts of responses to his survey about dancers' "lives, influences and current work in the dance field." Neatly positioned across the floor during parts of First Move, Flomin's new quartet at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, these sheets of paper do provide stark and startling visual contrast to their surroundings. But when his own dancers read from these pages, the words seem an awkward interruption, superfluous to this abstract, if inspired, work. It might be enough to know, via Flomin's program notes, that forty dance artists--among them, Lance Gries, Miguel Gutierrez, Vicky Shick, Ellis Word and David Thomson--participated in the survey and that First Move attempts "to translate these words back into the moving body."

"How the world falls away the minute I step onstage," begins a poignant poem in the program notes, its lines plucked from survey responses by Jane Gabriels. For starters, Flomin and his fellow dancers--Hannah ButtonIsaac Gonyo and Colleen Thomas--occupy separate spaces, mostly in silence. Movement, when it comes, at first looks soft and dreamy. It takes a while for definition to focus and force to gather. They do.

First Move gathers into rock'n'roll-ish insistence with jabs and twists, wind-ups and crunches, unexpected stopping and starting. Pierre de Gaillande and Gary Greenblatt's original score also starts off spare and intermittent, eventually injecting propulsion and occasional and interesting distortions. The lighting (by magical Joe Levasseur) alternates between enhancing theatrical atmosphere and ripping away theatrical pretense.

Flomin, dressed in plaid shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, often looks like a knot struggling to untangling itself. Thomas, Button and especially Gonyo--a gorgeous mover--provide excellent support in the exactitude of their shaping and timing and how they regard one another, near or far. The piece, which exploits the Gibney theater's width to create divergent, sometimes conflicting swarms of activity, feels longer than it needs to be. But, as Flomin intended his survey to do, it beautifully highlights intelligence and sensitivity in dancers.

Ori Flomin's First Move concludes its run tonight with a performance at 7:30pm. For information and tickets, click here.

The inaugural Making Space spring season continues at Gibney through June 27. Click here for the complete schedule.

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

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