Gina Gibney - Time Remaining
By Anne Zuerner
October 8, 2002
Gina Gibney's new evening length work, "Time Remaining," performed at St. Mark's Church, glows like a fire, beats like a heart, and rumbles like an earthquake. It is the passionate translation of an epiphany Gibney had while meditating on Cambodian ruins grown dense with twirling vines. Its breathing and swirling will only continue until Oct. 13, after which, its fire will go out, leaving only ashes in its place.
Photo courtesy of Anja Hitzenberger
Before the show began, Gibney stepped onto the stage to explain the origins of "Time Remaining," and luckily, she did so with grace and candor. Art that works, this piece included, needs no disclaimer, no explanation. So I questioned Gibney's decision to tell us her thoughts, rather let the dance speak for itself. But her words were not an explanation, they were a welcoming glimpse of what makes her tick, and in this instance, the subject was time.
As Gibney warned in her opening statements, we did not see vines, crumbling walls, clocks, or any literal translation of the subject of time (aside from the text, taken from Ecclesiastes, that Kitty Brazelton's ensemble of vocalists sang with chilling beauty). Instead we saw seven women, with roots growing deep into the ground and gazes enveloping eternity before them and behind them. Each one of these women radiated like a goddess, so that the dance felt like watching an ensemble of Hindu deities creating a mountain range.
Dancers stomped out unexpected rhythms, slapped their thighs, spun each other around at rapid velocities, entwined themselves around each other in ways never imagined, all the while speaking a kinesthetic message of life or death. In thinking about time, Gibney created a sizzling celebration of life, a churning of energy that only the most intense moments in life demand.
Gibney's composition was lavish and well crafted, with memorable phrases continually resurfacing in exciting new ways. Her patterns were at times simple yet elegant, at others, complex and highly textured. The dance moved in and out of unison, duet, trio, ensemble, canon, and layered movement effortlessly. A moment that made me grin took place when the ensemble walked a few steps back and forth, hopping each time they turned around, as one by one dancers walked off stage. I grinned yet again when the dancers lined up single file from downstage to upstage, moving through a canon of variations on thematic phrasing. Just as you expected one dancer to follow the woman in front of her, she would do something else and then move back into the theme. This continued for a while, growing into something more interesting with every moment. Gibney was not afraid to offset tumbling momentum with daring stillness at times, leaving the dancing up to each woman's eyes, breath, and glowing presence.
"Time Remaining" created its own world from every aspect. The lighting by Kathy Kaufman demanded the audiences attention with emotional oranges, reds, and shadows, expressing the heaviness of a hazy day, or the lushness of a canopied forest. The costumes, by Naoko Nagata moved with the same abandon that the dancers had, wrapping and hanging about their bodies with effortless style. The set design, by Normal Group for Architecture (Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss and Sabine von Fischer) cooled the heat of the music and dancing with its steadfast angularity. Rectangular gray pillars of various sizes lined the back of the stage, occasionally moved by the dancers to create frames and punctuation for the various sections of the piece. The set began outside the lobby door, trailing onto the stage like a mountain range, leading the audience to the sea.
The music, composed by Kitty Brazelton, and performed live by six musicians, managed to fill the space with ghosts, angels and the sounds of the earth, using only four vocalists, a cello, a drum kit, and a laptop. Brazelton, like Gibney, created complex rhythmic structures and interesting textures. The vocalists churned through many rhythmic variations of text, so that the words time, season, and tension jumped out of the soundscape.
All of these elements came together with a rare intensity. I was sad to see it end. But then again, that is what "Time Remaining" is about. Our breath, this century, this earth, will all come to an end, and in our place, vines will twirl out of our ashes.
Go to www.danspaceproject.org or www.ginagibneydance.org for more information.
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