Nov 14, 2011


Gibney Dance's "View Partially Obstructed", photo by Anja Hitzenberger

 Evan’s Auditorium at Texas State University held quite a performance on the Evening of November 3rd thanks to Gina Gibney’s two productions of “Thrown” and “View Partially Obstructed.” These pieces were very similar in terms of style and form of dance, however the feel I took away from the two pieces were distinctively different. Not only were both dance productions powerful with sharp choreography, but visualy as well creating a more aesthetic imprint on the audience. It was quite a show indeed.

So lets start with the setup, both dances take place on a proscenium stage with nearly ¾ of the seats vacant with students and spectators. The lighting was dim (that typical of theater or dance performances), and we were brought into the first piece through an introduction giving credit to people in charge of production and guests in the building. The production begins.

To best describe the form of dance being performed, Id compare it highly to what is discussed as Modern Dance. This is because the dancers work highly with the force of gravity and intrude on levels of physics with lifts and thrusts, spending a majority of the time bent and leaning towards the ground. Personally, this way of performing isn’t as appealing to the eye as a whole but at the same time extremely impressive with the amount of acrobatic throws and lifts these performers endure while keeping complete composure.

One down side, in my opinion, to this first production “Thrown”, was the music. I found it hard to keep up with what was happening visually on stage while not being able to tell if the sounds coming from the monitors were intentional or accidental. I compare it to a record player being set up and showing signs of imperfection and random bursts of noises or percussion. However, this did not totally immerse the piece into a disaster for me. I still kept a straight eye on these performers and wondered what move they could possibly do next.

Though I noted something negative about the first piece “Thrown”, the overall feeling was a complete success due to the nature of the piece itself and its overall meaning. The program description of “Thrown” says, “Thrown is a dance about disruption and unpredictability. It examines our yearning for stability: If we are constantly “thrown,” how do we find our equilibrium?” This couldn’t have been more represented in this piece at all. Its completely accurate with what I saw and even though the piece wasn’t as captivating as I would have liked it to be, it did nearly exactly what it intended on doing and I give it thumbs up. 

Natsuki Arai and Joshua Palmer, photo by Andrzej Olejniczak

The second production “ View Partially Obstructed” was a little more uplifting for me personally. I looked for a change of pace when it came to the music to keep the audience interested and that’s exactly what had happened. In this piece the music resembled more of a trans hip hop genre and was quite interesting when combined with the similar modern style of dance that we saw in the first piece. This music was thanks to a special guest involved with this work named Joshue Ott. Joshue was introduced at the beginning of the work as being involved with the dance production visually and musically. This, in return, left me waiting for the moment id notice something different and interesting that drove the work to a whole new level. 

Examples of Joshue Ott's work apart from Gibney's piece can be found here. Ott is well known for creating an interactive software called "Super Draw" that, in this situation, is used in favor of the performance.  A peak at how Otte infused his creation with Gibney's work can be viewed here.

View Partially Obstructed - BAC - Excerpt 1 from Gibney Dance on Vimeo.

Shortly after the piece began I got exactly what I asked for when a scene arose where the dancers each ran from one side of the stage to the other. As they ran, a sharp stroke of white copied their movement in terms of direction. This brought a whole new view of the work itself, by infusing “line” and bringing that out visually… and quite litteral. Lines littered the screen and it briefly acted as the light source in the theater. This continued through out the work and the piece left every audience member’s eyes constantly in motion.

Description within the program notes “View Partially Obstructed delves into the subjective nature of perception and our struggle to create a full view of ourselves, others and the world, despite having incomplete or distorted information.” This also correctly describes this work in the sense that we are all distorted within our own thoughts and can be viewed as simple as a stroke on a screen.

Overall this production created by Gina Gibney was quite impressive and powerful. The tosses, the lifts, the movements and the acrobatic gestures left me feeling if anything, out of shape. Due to their objective in what they were trying to create, I feel they did so completely. I recommend this work to anyone interested in seeing people doing these things and leaving you feeling a little out of breath. Good work Gibney and the Theater students!

Stephen Durham


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