The Institute of
April 24–25, 2009
Reviewed by Theodore Bale
Jennifer Bricker and Nathan Crawford in the mesmerizing aerial overture to GIMP. Photo courtesy ICA.
When six confident dancers (Christina Briggs, Lawrence Carter-Long, Jeffrey Freeze, Lezlie Frye, Catherine Long, and Heidi Latsky) walk slowly downstage in the opening scene of GIMP, each is looking directly, almost confrontationally, into the audience. Two of them have provocative slogans on their black T-shirts: “Keep staring, I might do a trick,” says one, and “Let’s get ready to stumble,” the other. The words reminded me that as a child, I was taught never to stare at disabled persons. I remained curious into adulthood, however, and the dancers in GIMP not only break this common taboo, they make the situation reciprocal: They stare back at you.
Subverting these well-established “polite” conventions of gaze is the starting point for this event, which skillfully blends political inquiry, psychology, and aesthetic explorations of form, structure, and dynamics. GIMP is without doubt a gleaming milestone in the progress of contemporary dance and theater, proving that the term “disabled dancer” is an oxymoron.
The performance began outdoors with a mesmerizing aerial overture and prologue to original live music by Stan Strickland and Randall Woolf. One definition of gimp is “a ribbon-like, braided fabric.” Jennifer Bricker (an accomplished aerialist and athlete without legs) and Nathan Crawford (a dancer with the Britney Spears “Circus” tour), used just that—a suspended stretch of long, crimson silk—for an intensely erotic duet. In a series of variations on spinning and clinging, each took turns manipulating the other within and around the fabric. In its abstract sense, it was a striking study in proportion and scale. When Crawford embraced Bricker, she became entirely concealed within his arms and torso. When she grounded one of his spinning episodes from far below, she appeared to be navigating a huge kite through a hurricane.
The stage portion of GIMP has an urban, night-club feel. Eva Mantell’s scrim projections of body parts, classic statuary, and animals, as well as Christopher Ash’s tense lighting design, provide a worthy landscape for a series of non-narrative duets and ensembles. Text is fragmentary. “Three cripples walk into a bar,” says Carter-Long at one moment, never finishing the joke. Certain episodes juxtapose the same movement or gesture by a dancer such as Latsky (with a traditional body) and a dancer whose arm finishes in a smooth point rather than a set of five splayed fingers, or another who has just one arm. The purpose here is not to assert any kind of qualitative hierarchy. Rather, the performers are like a thicket of trees subsisting on the same soil, light, and water, but each expressing its response to those elements with irrefutable distinction.
What do Percy Jackson, Princess Diana and Tina Turner have in common? They're all characters on Broadway this season. Throw in Michelle Dorrance's choreographic debut, Henry VIII's six diva-licious wives and the 1990s angst of Alanis Morissette, and the 2019–20 season is shaping up to be an exciting mix of past-meets-pop-culture-present.
Here's a look at the musicals hitting Broadway in the coming months. We're biding our time until opening night!
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
Ah, stretching. It seems so simple, and is yet so complicated.
For example: You don't want to overstretch, but you're not going to see results if you don't stretch enough. You want to focus on areas where you're tight, but you also can't neglect other areas or else you'll be imbalanced. You were taught to hold static stretches growing up, but now everyone is telling you never to hold a stretch longer than a few seconds?
Considering how important stretching correctly is for dancers, it's easy to get confused or overwhelmed. So we came up with 10 common stretching scenarios, and gave you the expert low-down.