Performing Arts: Dance
May 7, 2017
In consonance to the goal of supporting “both process and product” throughout the creative development process, the third edition of GRIT: Gibney Repertory Initiative for Tomorrow hosted Joanna Kotze’s premiere of Already Ready and reimagined signature works by Reggie Wilson presented as Config. Khoum-baye Heah through the first weekend of May.

In this order, the Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center hosted these uniquely distinct works. As the theatrical space opened, patrons were lead into a rectangular peripheral seating. Already Ready opened as the dancers entered the theatrical studio running heavily and with straightforward determination. As they pounded their trajectory, they started shifting mode into attentive alertness towards each other and the audience.

Lead and follow movement motifs evolved into contrasts of heavy gestures colliding through space and dropping to the floor with light direct pedestrian gestures. Observant moments take place as four of the five dancers remain still sitting on the floor or standing on the corner chairs in the audience, just watching the featured solo dancer. The movement text was interspersed with individual frantic stationary repetitious eruptions. The overall abstract choreographic aesthetic was accompanied by electronic music composed by Ryan Seaton and challenged by loud antagonistic costume choices by costume designer, Stacey Berman, as the dancers were dressed in golden sparkling stretch attire or bright summer practice clothes, all wearing golden tops underneath. After a bow to all four sides of the performance space, the dancers ran out with the same heavy pounding air with which they had entered, leading to an intermission where the seating was rearranged into the more conventional one front perspective for the second piece.

For this third GRIT season, Reggie Wilson reshaped three of his signature works: PANG, the Dew Wet, and Big Brick - A man’s piece, into a choreographic unit now titled Config. Khoum- baye Heah. The dance amalgam incorporated music from Pepa Wemba, Fist and Heel Performance group, the Andrews Sisters, Thione Seck, and DJ K. Blaze. The work included the same five dancers as Kotze’s piece: Nigel Campbell, Kasandra Cruz, Amy Miller, Devin Oshiro and Brandon Welch who started the piece standing at, and facing towards, the upstage left corner.

Coinciding with Already Ready, the choreographic discourse was offset by a single dancer initiating the movement by departing and returning to the group through a repetitive motif. As she went on with her sequence, the other dancers would join in movement, fluctuating from remaining in their spots or approaching each other to push against, lift, catch or support. The second part engaged in rhythmic gesture sequences to Afro-Caribean, Congolese, and Senegalese music, dramatically followed by profound chants where a solo dancer remained center stage, while the rest would dance around the stage as a tight group, disintegrated into several regroupings. As the piece came to a climatic conclusion, the beginning sequences were repeated with different movement qualities, one example being a polka performed by an augmenting couple en menage diluted to a promenade around the performance space, fading out through the recurrence of the first movement themes. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

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