Women in Motion: Gilbey Dance Theater
by R. Pikser
Dance is doing extremely supportive work for the dance community and this
program is an example of that support. The presentation is a culmination of a
year’s work by three companies, Rebecca
Stenn, asubtout, and Same
As Sister. During the course of the year, the choreographers also
had access to informal salons which were meant to help them develop their
work. Such opportunities are invaluable to a choreographer's growth. Another
excellent contribution that Gibney is making is the continuation of the
tradition of live theater: living, breathing performers and audiences in the
same space, interacting.
two of the choreographers seen on this evening did not seem to be interested in
using the presence of the public or in relating to the audience. Ms. Stenn’s
choreography was, apparently intentionally, exclusive of the public, and though
Same As Sister had presented movement that might be confrontational, there was
no investigation of the movement that might have enriched what they wanted to
convey. One has to wonder why these choreographers were not better mentored so
that their thoughts could be better formulated.
Stenn’s piece started provocatively with Ms. Stenn and her partner, Quinn
Dixon, connected to each other by a cloth tube linking their arms. They
leisurely used the cloth as a connection to each other and made some slight
exploration of how it wrapped their arms and connected one to the other. This
idea, though it had possibilities of exciting our interest, was soon dropped,
however. The rest of the piece involved making circling movements of the arms,
from the shoulder. Sometimes the dancers ran, circling the space, and sometimes
they threw into the air pieces of cloth that were lying in a pile on the
floor. These pieces of cloth made the arm movements larger, but not clearer in
intent. Ms. Stenn and Mr. Dixon had no affect, and this seemed to be on
purpose; nothing was communicated except a kind of removed hysteria, but one
did not know why.
same idea of repetitive movement was seen in Same
as Sister´s piece, which closed the program, perhaps because the
use of projections was presumed to enrich the presentation.
The piece started
with a thin woman in a dress standing on a box, either in need of sex or masturbating
while a half-naked, attractive man who was standing near her box caressed
himself. After a while, the couple left and we saw a voluptuous woman in a
clinging black body suit and heels lying on the floor in front of us. We saw
videos of shoppers at a furniture store which the program told us was Ikea.
The most interesting visuals occurred when the woman sat up and her shadow
obtruded into the video. This was repeated, but the idea did not develop or
even change. No connection was made between the woman and the shoppers.
Eventually, the woman stood up and, turning her back to us, bent over to stick
her rear end out at us. She ran her hands along her buttocks and the back of
her legs, caressing herself while watching us over her
shoulder. She appeared to be a stripper and to want to incite us to
something. The caresses never developed or built to a crescendo. They merely
repeated. This went on for a long time. The relationship of this masturbatory
activity to the shoppers may be suggestive to the minds of the choreographers,
but was not made salient. After a long while, two figures with white masks and
Afro wigs entered and posed, making masculine fists and pumping arm gestures.
Perhaps they were meant to be male. They posed with the woman, as if for a
photo. After more repetition, one of them ended up on hands and knees at the
side of the first woman who had returned and, seated on her box, caressed him,
or her, like a dog. Perhaps choreographers Brianna Brown-Tipley and Hilary Brown-Istrefi
thought they were critiquing white society and the roles African Americans are
called to play. Or were they critiquing consumerism? Or were they critiquing
self-involvement? It was hard to know. The caressing of the figure on hands
and knees was, however, offensive.
best piece of the evening was asubtout’s
revisiting of their 2007 work, The
Centaur Show. Though the intent of the piece was not clear, it was
full of energy and silliness and was very entertaining. Two centaurs, replete
with pony tails on their heads and their behinds, pranced and neighed around
the stage. The women then took a break and one of the women moaned, or
yodeled, a lament to her crystal while the other played electric keyboards. If
this was incomprehensible, it was still silly and funny. If we did not know
what was going on, at least Eleanor Hullihan and Katy Pyle were clear in their
energy which they communicated to the audience, leaving us all feel more alive.
30th - February 1st,2020
$15 on line, $20 at door