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A review of Gina Gibney - Time Remaining

by Robert Abrams
October 8, 2002
New York, NY

Gina Gibney - Time Remaining

By Robert Abrams
October 8, 2002

The Gina Gibney work presented tonight, Time Remaining, revealed that she has developed a counter-system for lifts. A counter-system is a set of rules derived from an established system of design by inverting those rules. Lifts are usually characterized by height, straight lines and effortless lightness. In Ms. Gibney's counter-system, lifts are characterized by lowness, angularity and burdensome effort. The test of a counter-system is whether it works as more than an intellectual exercise. This counter-system appears to pass this test. These lifts fit the tone of this work. Time Remaining is often a work about constraints, so a constrained form of lift made perfect sense, even if they did look "wrong" at first. It even sounds strange to talk about lifts whose purpose is to be grounded, but that is just our preconceptions getting in the way.


Photo courtesy of Anja Hitzenberger

It is possible that these grounded lifts were developed because Ms. Gibney's company is composed entirely of female dancers. One could hypothesize that women can not perform "normal" lifts - either because women are not strong enough, because women lifting women mean that the person being lifted is of approximately equal weight as the lifter, or because women do not usually perform the role of lifter and therefore are not trained to do so. For the purposes of identifying a system, and for the artistic needs of Time Remaining, it really doesn't matter. The lifts as performed serve the dance well. Whether Ms. Gibney's dancers can perform other types of lifts is a challenge they can address in some future work.

Time Remaining had a clear theme. Some of this clarity of theme may have been due to Ms. Gibney discussing the theme before the start of the performance. There was some slight emergent narrative with the dancers at times almost taking on the role of characters. Personally, I am not partial to modern dance's lack of narrative. After a while, the repetition of forms starts to look aimless, even when each passage is well danced, as many sections of Time Remaining were. For a while, Time Remaining seemed to be building somewhere, but then the sections kept coming and I lost the thread of the overarching meaning.

Sometimes, though, one needs to see an entire work before understanding its structure and the meaning that structure implies. In Time Remaining, it was only at the very end of the work, with the final image, that the structure of the work fell into place, giving me a better appreciation of the middle. Time Remaining starts with a single dancer on stage breathing loudly, as if in exhaustion. The work ends this way as well. As a result, the middle of the work can be understood as the imaginings of this lone dancer. In such a context, the somewhat irregular shuttling back and forth of the tempo of the dance makes sense. Who among us thinks to ourselves in a constant pattern, especially in times of pressure and constraint?

Ms. Gibney made good use of a great space, closing it off and opening it up by means of the lights and a fog machine. The collaboration of the dancers with a live orchestral and vocal group was innovative. The choreography incorporated both percussive and melodic elements, and was often framed by having dancers who were not dancing in a particular section sitting on the sides of the stage looking on. I thought this added a nice touch to the work.

Overall, Time Remaining is a good work with ideas that are likely to challenge your preconceptions of dance. Since modern dance is supposed to challenge preconceptions, I would judge that Time Remaining was successful.

The show runs through October 13, 2002.

Go to www.danspaceproject.org or www.ginagibneydance.org for more information.

Danspace Project
131 East 10th Street (at Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003
Information: 212-674-8112
Fax: 212-529-2318
Reservation: 212-674-8194

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