November 15, 2016
As the lights come up five dancers squirm and pulsate in the middle of the stage. And while the audience waits patiently, they begin slowly making their way to the back wall. This begins the first movement of Gina Gibney’s first choreographic work in 3 years, "Folding In." At the Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, Gibney Dance is painted as a white box for the dancers to move through. Clad in equally blank white costumes, the bodies of the dancers soak up the bright colored lighting that fills the space. Switching from warm golds, to cool blues, and even electric purples, the lighting by Asami Morita sets the mood and visual stimulus to match the feelings in each section of the piece.
Gibney’s choreographic strength lies in her ability to build relationships between the dancers. Each section of the work is filled with humanity and genuine interaction, particularly the end of the duet between dancers Brandon Welch and Amy Miller. Welch picks Miller off the ground as the music ends and in silence begins to swing, twist, and throw Miller around his body in new and provoking ways— never letting her touch the ground. I would be remiss if I did not mention the solo work done by Miller throughout "Folding In," because it was wholly captivating and the highlight of the evening. Gibney’s ability to work with dancers to highlight their power resonates profusely any time Miller takes the stage.
Inspired movement and intriguing new lines of the body, makes the structure of the piece fall into the general trends of current modern dance. The score by Hildur Guõnadóttir’s starts resembling an ethereal soundscape as commonly heard over recent choreographic pieces. Deep cello notes drive each drop, turn and detail as the three bodies of the compelling women cover the stage. For transitions Gibney choses to have her dancers move through the silence. The decisions are smart and well executed, but silent movement transitions feel like such a trope that it is hard to continue gleaning meaning from these moments.
Despite the trendy pitfalls, "Folding In" was a robust showcase for Gibney and her dancers, and we can only hope it will not be another 3 years until we get to see what other dances Gibney has in store.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller