GABRIELLE LAMB - PLEXUS: a work in knots
February 13, 2020
Gabrielle Lamb’s co-commission with composer James Budinich, through the CUNY Dance Initiative, has resulted in a work that is curious, confounding, connective, meditative, and sometimes discomfiting, oscillating between transcending the physical and psychic distance between the dancers, and sometimes between us.
Lamb’s distinct movement crystalizes through a flow of bodily connections, the touch of a knee or an elbow caused a reaction that sometimes freezes, and sometimes resolves into something else. Dancers simply and cleanly costumed in grey leggings and mint green tops and socks by Christine Darch inhabited an overly smoky, other-worldly green-lit stage designed by Barry Steele.
They moved with liquid joints while crouching down, in, around and through each other’s limbs, intent on piercing through the other’s space, while also remaining apart. Fingers interlocked like the itsy-bitsy-spider, tense and rotating, and animalistic squats, stealth crawls, and heads pokes shaped our perceptions; each interaction a chain of energy created, transferred, broken, renewed.
Budinich’s music, a creation with wind chimes, metal pipes and electronic distortions, provided an even-toned sound that on occasion swelled dramatically, but never overwhelmed the steady flow of action. A strange, rubbery green tube was brought onstage, physically connecting the dancers, sometimes by having one insert the tube into another’s mouth.
This somewhat awkward use of an object to literally connect gave me a flashback to Martha Graham’s Cave of the Heart, but with none of the melodrama. Later, the dancers manipulated semi-circular, stiffer sections of tube continually composed into circles broken apart by the dancers.
In the most eloquent moments of Plexus, no prop was necessary. One dancer roamed in and around the group, placing the other dancers’ bodies into still positions and then molding her body onto theirs. When she slipped away, she left her presence behind, the negative space now full of meaning. A hollow once occupied melted away, in a very human and poignant physicalization of our search for belonging.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Nicole Duffy Robertson