Gina Gibney Dance

November 4, 1999

Gina Gibney Dance

Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church

New York City, New York

November 4-7, 1999

Reviewed by Gus Solomons Jr

In 1995 Gina Gibney dropped out of the concert scene for a couple of seasons after the deaths of both her parents and the consequent re-evaluation of her life and values with respect to dance. She’s back with an all-female company and a more thoughtful outlook. Objects No Longer Present is a rumination, inspired by a trip back to her childhood home in Ohio, where strangers now live. In making the dance she used real props to generate movement, then abandoned the objects and let the movement evolve.

The result is an hour-long dance in ten sections for a cast of eight, dressed in multi-layered but under-detailed costumes by Stefani Mar. At the start the movement retains its pantomimic genesis. Aislinn MacMaster wanders among the motionless women, as if revisiting the rooms of her past. In a solo she runs along corridors of light (by Kathy Kaufmann). Marta Miller and Eden Mazer lend each other mutual support, lifting and leaning. There seems to be a familial relationship between them, though it’s not overtly indicated.

Except for the fast-moving finale and one other active group section, the energy of the piece is contemplative, accompanied by an assortment of musical selections that are diverse in instrumentation—from atonal flute melodies to chromatic string quartets—yet similar in tone. Likewise, the movement remains dynamically flat, with emotions externally applied rather than organically generated by it.

Though Gibney has shifted her artistic focus to women and their issues, these women don’t seem empowered, either emotionally or physically—despite lots of lifting. Nor are they particularly diverse; they are all fine dancers—Leah Chevalier, Angharad Davies, Kara Gilmour, and Jeanne Schickler—but only Johanna Hegenscheidt, in her solo two-thirds of the way through the dance, really ignites physically. She is a tall, sturdy, strong woman, whose physical commitment to movement is total, almost reckless, giving it an urgency that’s missing from the rest of the work.