With any justice, history will honor Gina Gibney Dance (the Duke, April) for exquisite, sensitive choreography that mattered in a time when so much cultural product did not. To create Gibney’s triumphant Several Truths, her five female dancers responded to a series of personal questions about identity, feelings, and choices, but all their words disappeared, leaving only the ghost of answers. Dancers gently molded themselves around each other in a typically Gibneyan stream of movement and softly slipped through the space. At times, they resembled lovers or parts of one self, but the piece, coolly presented without interpretation or overdramatization, did not label them, nor should we. My favorite, sprite-like Aislinn MacMaster, successfully combined sweetness and edge, moving from subtlety to outburst with no apparent prep time, reveling in the wildly off-center reshaping of her body. The percussive finale featured dancers as sassy and light on their feet as cats or capoeira players, each a distinct individual we’d come to know well.
In Transported (Joyce Soho, April), choreographer Rae Ballard recalled the spirit of diarist Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew who perished at Auschwitz. Ballard’s dance-theater style rests on the bedrock of Humphrey-Limón-Sokolow aesthetics, befitting this historical portrait. She played Hillesum as loving, lusty, and resourceful, the focus in a fine ensemble of women. Guest artist Jim May (from Anna Sokolow’s Players’ Project) was well-cast as Julius Spier, the writer’s charismatic, eccentric therapist and lover. Ballard’s simple, satisfying movement themes—especially her tensile circles—elevated a sometimes too literal depiction of character, mood, and event, as did Stephen Petrilli’s ingenious lighting design.