November 5, 2021
By the end of the concert, the packed house at the Joyce Theater eagerly stood up to salute Gina Gibney -- not just in support of her new dance company-- but in tribute to her manifold contributions to the dance community.
The enterprising woman behind the Gibney Dance center in lower Manhattan, embraced the independent modern dance community's extensive needs by re-imagining a center for performances, classes, workshops, seminars and field-wide conversations.
For many years, Gibney headed a company stamped with her choreography then flipped the equation and converted her primarily single choreographer company into a repertory troupe just before COVID hit.
This global, life-shifting pandemic gave the new group time to gestate until its debut in November at the Joyce Theater.
Three choreographers built pieces on a texturally impressive company of dancers: Lucien Oyen, a choreographer, director and playwright from Sweden; Rena Butler, dancer and Gibney Company Choreographic Associate; plus Sonya Tayeh, Tony-award winning choreographer of Moulin Rouge! The Musical.
Text and movement flowed through a shadowed space in Lucien Oyen's The Game is Rigged set to Gunnar Innvaer's sound design. Pedestrian movements stretched through modern dance forms revealing dancers equally capable of speaking and moving. With roots in the European dance theater movement, most visibly promoted by PIna Bausch, Oyen's choreography honed in on internal narratives spilling out of dancers' gestures.
Stylized acrobatics resounded in, Lusus Naturae by Rina Butler. Three male dancers hunkered over each other imitating primate-like movements teased through hip hop lopes only to straighten into upright gladiators and then plunk back down to earth.
After intermission, the audience was treated to a new piece Oh Courage! by Sonya Tayeh, the Tony award winning choreographer of Broadway's Moulin Rouge. Dancers surround the live music performed by Shaun and Abigail (think Janis Joplin meets Meredith Monk), Bengson. Dancers popped up on a box near Abigail physically emoting improvisational sensations. Complex body isolations punctuated wide, free-wheeling patterns that kept the stage in a dynamic state. The dancers are quite distinctive and talented, however, Leal Zielinska captured some serious limelight.
Eager to catch the next Gibney Company production.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis