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Beth Gill: Spare and Symmetrical

Beth Gill’s Electric Midwife ~ photo by Julieta Cervantes

Dance Magazine has included her in their Top 25 to Watch for 2012, which was what brought Beth Gill to my attention.

Gill is a Brooklyn-based choreographer who graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2003.  Gill represents a constantly emerging new breed in dance, creating work that is by motivated design pared down, bare bones, structured, and highly symmetrical.  In fact, symmetry seems to be the fundamental theme in her work, with use of mirror images and a stage often divided in perfect halves by her six dancers.

Using simple walks, slow turns, lunges, and geometric arm movements, Gill’s choreography has a sculptural feel which could be related to ancient Greek sculpture if she wasn’t so much a part of the new moderns.  According to Gill, it is the symmetry that helps to create focus for her exploration of form and space.  One can easily see this in her 2007 piece, Eleanor and Eleanor, where she was inspired by diptychs and other visual elements that support the division of space.

Her latest minimalist work, Electric Midwife, was presented at the Chocolate Factory in Long Island City, Queens for which she won a Bessie award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer.  Her composer, Jon Moniaci won a Bessie as well for scoring the piece.  Here again Gill uses her six dancers to create a deliberate and structural work that fits perfectly in the small space that harmonizes with the containment of her choreography.

Gill is one of seven choreographers featured in Michael Blackwood’s 2010 documentary New York Dance: States of Performance.  She has been commissioned to create work by a number of reputable venues such as Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen, Dixon Place, and more, and is obviously hitting a chord in new dance circles.  It will be interesting to see if her work expands and evolves enough to stand the test of time.