Liz Gerring Dance Company

October 19, 2011

Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC

October 13–16, 2011

Performance reviewed: Oct. 13

By Susan Yung

In Liz Gerring’s she dreams in code, a seamless 50-minute abstract dance, dozens of independent phrases move across the stage, ebbing and flowing inexorably like lapping waves. Each segment feels like an exercise exploring a particular movement idea. Last week, the work, in its world premiere, was performed impressively by Claire Westby, Jessica Weiss, Brandin Steffensen, Adele Nickel, Tony Neidenbach, and Ben Asriel, whose close proximity to the audience in the intimate Howard Gilman Performance Space helped us feel their exertion and humanity.

Gerring relishes full-out movement and athleticism. Several strong motifs recurred, including an arabesque on a bent leg, torso tipped forward with one arm overhead, to form one long swooping line. It was not only the elongation of the body that was intriguing, but how the foot was stretched almost to its fullest, stopping just short of pointed toes. There was a freedom in those toes, seen in the hands as well, that encapsulated Gerring’s style—fully extended and modern. There were nods to influential choreographers such as Trisha Brown: Several segments involved dancers leaning on one another, evoking Brown’s 1970 Leaning Duets.

Willy Le Maitre’s elegant video projections provided continuously shifting imagery using variations on raindrops—on a window pane, running across an eave. These were lush and interesting but not distracting. The same can be said of Michael Schumacher’s sound design, whose varied themes made themselves present and then receded. All of the elements served their functions and complemented the whole, including Jillian Lewis’ chambray-hued costumes.


Each of Gerring’s phrases held the eye for as long as necessary, showing what her skilled dancers are capable of. Earlier segments recurred among fresh ones. At the end of the show, which felt longer than it actually was, the work seemed somewhat unresolved, its many unrelated parts not quite adding up to a whole. But for as long as it lasted, there was plenty to soak in.

Photo: Claire Westby (floor), Jessica Weiss, and Adele Nickel in Liz Gerring’s
she dreams in code. Julieta Cervantes, Courtesy BAC.