GEMMA BOND DANCE
July 28, 2017
What a night at the Joyce: watching artists from American Ballet Theatre dancing fresh, inventive ballet choreography on a program with only three works. This means that the ballets had time to develop, to mean something, and to make us want to see them again. Gemma Bond’s choreography has grown and deepened, as dance making art.
Gemma Bond is a senior corps member of American Ballet Theatre, and she first tried choreography at the age of 13 – unusual for a female ballet dancer. She has a wonderful sense of structure in the service of developing an idea or multiple subtexts that emerge naturally out of the movement. In Then and Again (2016), first work of the program, a lone woman dances to a soulful cello as others come in and out; at times she seems an outcast, and we followed her interactions with other dancers with curiosity. An exchange of partners in a trio gives a glimpse of complication, then dissolves. At one point, Luciana Paris appeared, dancing a playful duet, in a stark contrast to the other’s melancholy. She was so startlingly fresh and innocent that I thought she would make a lovely Juliet.
In The Giving, Christine Shevchenko and Cory Stearns danced a heart-rending duet where she, trapped in a square of light that gets smaller, struggles with something that keeps her from her loved one. The gorgeous costumes by Kyle Edmund, with a tied corset for her and vest for him, that had with dramatic assymetrical cuts, evoked a contemporary Giselle. The dancers alternated from romantic interludes to being on their knees, hands clasped behind their backs, unable to free themselves from a painful destiny.
The last work Impressions showed off Bond’s expert handling of ballet vocabulary in inventive ways: when was the last time we saw three garguillades (a jump where both feet circle in opposite directions in the air) look natural? Every gesture and step seemed imbued with meaning. The excellent cast incuded Skyler Brandt, Tyler Maloney, Calvin Royal III(, Gabe Stone Shayer, Devon Teuscher, Cassandra Trenary, and the incomparable James Whiteside, who also designed the sleek costumes.
What a treat to see all of these dancers up close, dancing good choreography uninhibited by spectacular costumes and effects. We look forward to Bond’s next venture.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson