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Gallim Dance review: Structure gives way to sensation



Performers for Gallim Dance rehearse at Space Place theater  -- photo by Whitney Marcella Wright
Performers for Gallim Dance rehearse at Space Place theater — photo by Whitney Marcella Wright

On Friday April, 25 the basement of the UI’s North Hall was brimming with people — people ready to see Gallim Dance, presented by Hancher at Space Place Theatre. Founded in 2007 by Andrea Miller (a recent Guggenheim Fellow), the New York-based Gallim Dance pulls from Israel’s Gaga technique of rehabilitation and relearning natural movement rather than rigid techniques, most commonly found in classical dance and ballet.  It is based on sensation rather than structure. Instead of telling dancers to move their arms to the fifth position, the instructor says, “imagine your fingers are filled with bubbles.”
 
The seven dancers performed two 45 minute sets, each comprised of only one dance per set. The first dance, Sit, Kneel, Stand, was inspired by the ancient Greek myth of Sisyphus, the story of a cursed king who would forever roll a boulder up a hill, only for it to fall back down and have to start over again. The dance was fraught with longing for human connection, for things to be other than they are. There was tension in every contorted limb and tendon, and an immense heaviness of breath. The dancers would leap and collapse into the walls, lunge at the audience and retreat back to the stage. Another way the dancers broke from convention was with theatricality — humorous dialogue and interacting directly with the audience.
 


The second set, Pupil Suite, could best be described as explosive, uncontainable energy. Vivacious music by Balkan Beat Box kept the dancers bodies constantly convulsing with effervescent movement. At one point a dancer kissed all her fellow dancers and then leapt off stage to “high five” a dozen audience members.
 
At the Q&A after the performance, three dancers sat in chairs, chugged water and breathlessly answered a half dozen questions. When one dancer, Daniel Staaf from Sweden, became disoriented when responding to a question, another dancer, Caroline Fermin, explained that it was because he needed a steak. Fermin revealed that the second act was mainly improvisation. When an audience member asked, “If it was improvisation, then why all the kissing?” Fermin answered that it was her last night dancing with the company. She will now serve solely as Gallim Dance’s Education Chair.
 
It was a gorgeous, multi-faceted performance filled with smoke, bubbly music, and courageous dancers who see beyond expectations, standards, and traditions into the realm of imagination and innovation.


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