This time last year, I wrote for BroadwayWorld about one of the hidden secrets of the New York dance community – the Gotham Dance Festival. If you are reading this, I am going to assume you probably missed it. Nonetheless, it doesn’t stop me from preaching the word of innovative dance in New York.
The Gotham Dance Festival returned to The Joyce Theater (175 Eighth Avenue) again this year for two weeks. It presented five programs featuring the work of ten choreographers. In fact, this year’s festival also featured a program celebrating American female choreographers (established as well as emerging). This year’s Gotham Dance Festival runs through tomorrow, June 10, 2012.
Last night, I saw the work of Gallim Dance. Gallim Dance is the high-voltage, New York-based company of rising choreographer Andrea Miller. Returning to The Joyce after a sold-out run in August 2010, Miller is currently the 2012 recipient of the Joyce SoHo residency. She is also the inaugural artist in residence at New York City Center.
Miller, an alumnus of Ohad Naharin’s Ensemble Batsheva, has been creating an award-winning body of exuberant and captivating work since Gallim Dance’s founding in 2007. In 2009, she was selected for Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch.” She also is the recipient of the 2009 Princess Grace Foundation Fellowship in choreography.
Last night, Miller presented her newest creation "Sit, Kneel, Stand." This world premiere explored the boundaries between art and the artist. Coming out of the gate, it’s not the most innovative subject for exploration in art. Then the dancers came out...
The first thing I noticed was the amazing athletes her dancers were. Miller’s first dancer appeared in the house as the audience was mulling around. People awkwardly shuffled around her, praying she wasn’t blocking the way to their seats, humorous within and of it self. I could not keep my eyes off her. The sculptural quality of her body and movement made her look like a work of art.
The second thing I noticed was that her dancers were really great actors as well. Not only did they find passion in the piece, they found and embraced humor as well. Mario Bermudez Gill was a standout. His impeccable timing could go head to head with some of the better improv comedians in the city.
The Gallim Dance biography stated that the group's work "embodies fearless physicality grounded by deep humanity expressed through the madness and the joy of imagination." "Sit, Kneel, Stand" comes through on that promise tenfold. If you miss it, you’ve really missed something.
The technical issues I saw last year were nowhere to be found last year. The lighting and sound was sharp and the blackouts were crisp. They really aided in the storytelling. If I had to make a note on anything, perhaps the dancers were dressed a bit more “American Apparel” than I would prefer for my taste. Other than that, the show was rock solid.
The Gotham Arts Festival is produced by the Gotham Arts Exchange, an organization set up to provide services to the New York dance community. Founded in 2001, the organization is lead by Ken Maldonado (Producer & Director) and Burke Wilmore (Associate Producer). The Gotham Arts Exchange has been presenting dance companies in shared weeks at The Joyce Theatre since 2006.
The Gotham Dance Festival runs through tomorrow, June 10th. The Gallim Dance production of “Sit, Kneel, Stand” runs now through the closing of the festival. For more information about Gallim Dance, check out www.gallimdance.com. Tickets for the Gotham Dance Festival range from $10 to $39. They are available at 212-242-0800 as well as joyce.org.