The “DoublePlus” series at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center closed with “A Split-Bill Evening” featuring Katrina Reid and Marguerite Hemmings, curated by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (December 2-5). Reid and Hemmings share Jamaican roots, but offer dissimilar dance styles. Reconfiguring the room, Reid asked the audience to get close, leaving just a small area for her Don’t move too slow through the broken glass, which she wrote and performed. The space returns to the more open norm for Hemmings’ we free, which was a raw and regal mix of film, text, music and dance. At the top, Hemmings asks the audience to take out their phones for this “all-inclusive performance” experience, and further asked that they “Tweet” everything. In a short time, she manages to take the audience on a personal journey professing her view of “free”dom; her film which “walks” us through untraditional neighborhoods. Stripping layer after layer (literally), she dances stories of strife and hope, punctuating each moment of disrobing with razor-like stare. Peppered in-between codified dance forms, her long and lean body glide from one pop move to another and near the end she activates Kendrick Lamar’s “Black Lives Matter” anthem “we gon' be alright,” arms swinging and chest pumping, daring us to join in. We do. Hemmings ends by inviting the audience to the space for a good ‘ole Soul Train Line and we accept.
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I am a performer, historian, consultant and dance writer. I am a Empire State College's online program Center for Distance Learning. I am also a former faculty member at The Ailey School and the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University dance major program, Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College (Guest), Kean University and The Joffrey Ballet School's Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program. I write on dance for The Amsterdam News, Dance Magazine and various publications. Click below to read more about me at my home page - "About Me."