Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Dance Review: Together, But Different -Parker & Gibney at Symphony Space

Short Form Weave, Photography by Nicholas Burnham In a new program at Symphony Space     David Parker and Gina Gibney present an interwoven evening of works that show just how different and yet subtly reminiscent two very distinct contemporary works can be.  For the new series entitled “Short Form Weave,” Parker and Gibney are invited to make works to the music of composer, Ryan Lott that would, in presentation, vibe off the other’s kinesthetic energy.  The resulting dances are presented in delightful tandem, first a section of Parker’s Other Arrangements then a chunk of Gibney’s concrete mechanique and so on, four sections in total, with no intermission. The original sound score is performed live by Lott himself, sometimes appearing with a just a laptop, and sometimes with the music ensemble, yMusic, just behind an opaque scrim.

Become a Member.  Join iDANZ Today! Watching dances in this format allows for a remarkable game of compare and contrast.  I am struck immediately by both choreographers’ attention to musicality.  Parker likes rhythm…  Like a concert with Bobby McFerrin, his dancers slap themselves and each other; they stamp the floor and interact accompanied by distorted voiceovers to create a mottled fabric of humanistic happenings.  On the other hand, Gibney works with the full ensemble of musicians playing cyclical and dramatic classical sounding music in which she wonderfully mimics each musical movement’s sensibility within her own choreographic structures.  When the ensemble plays arcs and rolling shifts, she gives us leaps and circling partner lifts in canon.  When the score shifts to staccato pulses, her dancers turn their heads sharply from side to side leaning forearms into the floor and flipping their bodies unison.

Short Form Weave, Photography by Nicholas BurnhamThe resulting emotional life of each work are strikingly different in tone.  Parker has his dancers quickly come in and out of moods dancing wildly and hopping, flailing about but then walking slowly, pausing to look pointedly at one another.  Out of everyone in Parker’s more active section, my favorite is Amber Sloan; fully committed to every movement, Parker’s piece seems tailor-made for Sloan with her noticeably long limbs and perfectly awkward, perfectly weird quirks.  Love her….

In Parker’s final work of the evening, Parker is a delight.  He comes closest to theater when a duet, that begins as a slapping game, progresses into a fun vaudevillian rendition of “Tea for Two,” remarkably well sung by Jeffrey Kazin and Nic Petry.  Although the jokes here are predictable, I sincerely enjoy the rhythmic play in which each man tries to steal the other’s spotlight as well as enjoy the queer reading of the song.

In contrast, Gibney’s work gives emotionality as a starting point with tantalizing texture.  Her dancers, beautiful and very clean, have mastered the controlled, swooping feel of her movements (Joshua Palmer looks exceptionally “on” in his quick shifts between off balance turns and sharp, directed gestures).   At the very end of the second section of Gibney’s work, a long, angst-filled duet winds down into running and circular suspended lifts. The dancers twirl as the music plays elongated and slightly grating chords, and because here Gibney goes against the music’s overwhelming rhythm, the lights quickly fade on a gripping scene still fueled by a fiery disharmony.

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Official Dance Review by
Meghan Frederick
Performance:  Short Form Weave- The Bang Group and Gibney Dance
Choreography: David Parker and Gina Gibney
Venue:  Symphony Space
Show Date:  March 5, 2010
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