IMPRESSIONS: Gabrielle Lamb/Pigeonwing Dance’s “Plexus: a work in knots” at John Jay College as part of CUNY Dance Initiative
February 7, 2020
Artistic Director/Choreographer: Gabrielle Lamb // Composer: James Budinich
Costume Designer: Christine Darch // Lighting Designer: Barry Steele
Performance: Cody Berkeley, Robin Cantrell, Giovanna Gamna, Tiffany Mangulabnan, Patrick O’Brien, Victoria Sames, Kailei Sin
Although plexus derives from the Latin word for braid, what it really looks like is a lacy web. These branching networks of nerves and vessels are located in and throughout the body. Modern-dance pioneer Isadora Duncan directed our attention to the power of the solar plexus, but they reside near the spine and heart as well.
Plexus gives its name to Gabrielle Lamb/Pigeonwing Dance’s latest — a world premiere for seven dancers at John Jay College’s Gerald W. Lynch Theater as part of the CUNY Dance Initiative. Although the 55-minute piece, fully titled Plexus: a work in knots, takes its inspiration from these bodily structures, it registers more as a meditation on humanity’s interconnectedness and how the success and failure of our relationships affect the world itself.
On a stage drenched in emerald green light (design by Barry Steele), a delicate, vine-like organism emerges. Fleetingly, limbs attach, and the distal ends of the body — feet, hands — press together. Individuals slither through and sweep around craters of negative space created by torqued bodies. Their dynamic is curious, experiential.
Lamb’s choreography brims with skidding, slippery phrases that stroke and somersault across the floor, often in profile. Occasional motifs crystallize the stream into gem-like images. A foot of one dancer finds itself in the palm of another. Thumbs touch as hands flap like hummingbird wings. Backbends are caught, and fingers are grazed across a rippling body. Sometimes, a dancer or two will freeze, these instances a breath held in time.