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A dance through dusty weather: Beth Gill’s choreographic bite


There is a piano on stage, as well as a chandelier, a reference to “The Nutcracker” by Ménès. In her version of this ballet, Gill said, “Clara would wake up and she would lean over and grab this candle, and she would do this seemingly circuitous gait, this super affected thing. Oddly, this is a section that I remember being imprinted in my imagination.

While the dancers, at times, spend time with the piano, Gill, in his solo, holds the candlestick. Gill said she never felt she had the ideal body for ballet. “There’s a kind of stupid, naive desire, searching, kind of thing,” she said of her solo. “My role is limited.”

Visually, her role is an extension of her role in “Pitkin Grove” (2018), a dance in which she dipped her body in a bucket of clay. This was before the birth of her son, who is now 4 years old. “One of the ways I reconcile time internally is by putting on those same pants and boots,” she said. “Except my body is now a body that had a baby and was breastfed. In a way, performing in “Nail Biter” is a kind of painful but perhaps interesting meditation for me on how to be in my body.

Covered in clay, of course. It covers his pants and boots, his skin and hair, transforming Gill into a sort of speck in space. “Because I’m pretty slicked back, it looks pretty classic,” she said. “I’m holding this old, little candle holder with a fake candle in it, and it’s from a certain period. There’s something old about it, it’s a bit gothic.

And it’s personal — as are all roles, which are “kind of unconscious projections of myself,” Gill said. “I feel like my projects are more like psychological works. When I talk about this autobiographical stain, the emotional detritus that Maggie embodies, it’s interesting for me to be in there.


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