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Gibney Dance Center debuts expanded studio with 'DoublePlus'

Established and emerging talents pair up to start a new chapter at 280 Broadway studio.
Rakiya A. Orange performs “Aziza” as part of “DoublePlus” at the Gibney’s AAlex Escalante

Don’t be shy about taking a piece of candy from the bulbous glass jars throughout the all-new Gibney Dance Center at 280 Broadway. It’s a long-standing tradition by founder Gina Gibney, who considers it part of fostering a welcoming space for dancers and artists. The building itself, the former home of Dance New Amsterdam, owes its resurrection to Gibney, who took over the lease last January and began renovations of its 36,000 square feet.

Thanks to donations by institutions like the Agnes Varis Trust and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, who donated $3 million and $750,000 respectively, improvements are significant. Two medium studios were combined into one large studio (now Studio C), and a technologically wired Performance Lab was installed on the ground floor to support greater integration of dance and media.

Upstairs, extending from the central glass-topped art gallery, white rooms of various dimensions host not only movement-based classes but also a technology workroom where dancers are trained to edit footage and photos. Another space, the Community Action Hub, is dedicated to research and projects that use performing arts for social change.

Through Dec. 20Gibney Dance Center280 Broadway 646-837-6809$15-$20

Molly Poerstel, one of the choreographers of the new space’s first series of shows, “DoublePlus,” calls the new space “really exciting,” where downtown dancers can work, network “and celebrate each other.”

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“DoublePlus” was conceived by Gibney and Craig Peterson, director of programs and presentation. The show, which continues through Dec. 20, pairs six acclaimed curators, including RoseAnne Spradlin, Miguel Gutierrez and Bebe Miller with emerging dancers and choreographers on six split-bill performances over the course of a week.

“‘DoublePlus’ is about artistic development and intergenerational participation,” Gibney says. “We hope to not only identify and nurture promising young talent but also strengthen the fiber of artistic practice across the board.”

For her show, “Stolen Grounds,” Poerstel worked under the tutelage of curator Donna Uchizono, choreographing a duet with dancers Alice MacDonald and Mary Read. “I am trying to create an ongoing score where the dancers have structural touch points in choreography,” she explains, “but their own agency and responses affect the formal structure and form of the dance.”

It’s also representative of the integrated philosophy of the center, Gibney explains. “It’s really through this kind of cross-pollination and multilayered experience that our center has the potential to be more than the sum of its parts.”

 
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