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Women in Motion: Gilbey Dance Theater 


Women in Motion: Gilbey Dance Theater 

                        by R. Pikser

Gibney 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.


Unfortunately, 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.


Rebecca 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. 



The 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.

The 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.

Women in Motion
January 30th - February 1st,2020

280 Broadway
New York, NY

Tickets $15 on line, $20 at door