The past decade has brought significant changes to the artistic profile of Margie Gillis. At first encounter, this brilliant soloist was part dryad, part young woman. Deftness and a refreshing innocence wove equally through her dances, and she seemed constantly to be making tactile discoveries in her environment.
With the 1993 death of her beloved brother, Chris, and perhaps with other darkening forces in her life, an undercurrent of abrasion, even occasional lewdness, characterized her performing. The solid sprite had briefly soured.
Her current repertoire has evolved entirely within the past two years--no mean feat--and she has undergone an impressive renascence of creative energy. In so doing, she has taken the long road from celebration to meditation. Yet there is still an element missing.
Thrall, which opened the program, was the only dance not created by Gillis. Irene Dowd made it to one of Astor Piazzolla's wistful compositions for bandoneon and additional instruments, in this instance the Kronos Quartet. Clad in a dark red gown designed by Anne Dixon, Gillis radiated the dignity and resignation of a Victorian woman maintaining her facade in the presence of grief. Tension made her entire body appear to be strung on a single nerve, and the crepuscular mood of the dance set the tone for all that followed.
In Blue, a Hitchcock chair stood alone on the stage. As Gillis crouched in its arms, the chair became more cell than refuge.
Gillis intended George as a tribute to the men who have brought positive moments into her life. Set to a Gershwin lullaby, its calm journey about the stage and its embracing gestures drew their clarity more from the program commentary than from the dance itself.
With its relaxed posture and quiet, wide-held arms, Loon invoked an earlier period in Gillis's development. Then, her inspiration often came from nature. The dance seemed to lead inevitably into Meditation, with its smooth Duke Ellington score and its equally smooth, slow turns suggesting wheeling flight.
A more ominous sense of flight loomed over Voyage, the program's most ambitious statement and one that seemed to summarize the entire evening. Clad in the floor-length skirt and long, fitted jacket that one sees in turn-of-the-century photographs of Ellis Island immigrants, she trudged as though her legs were made of melting lead and coped with two equally leaden suitcases.
Here was a woman engaged in an endless search for asylum. The search demanded an eternity of emotional and physical endurance from its protagonist. Where would it lead? As Gillis balanced on the ends of those suitcases and fiercely raised her arms, what new gods was she invoking?
I found myself plunged into anticipating the next step in her creative journey. Would she continue to rely on pure determination, as she is currently doing, or would she find a way of linking this to the natural ardor of earlier Margie Gillis? Even in one's forties, growing up is tricky.
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|Title Annotation:||Review; Dowd, Irene; Gillis, Margie|
|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2000|
|Previous Article:||MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP-NEW YORK CITY OPERA.|