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Gia Cacalano premieres new collective at the Wood Street Galleries

Sarah Bauer in 'Frameworks'
Sarah Bauer in 'Frameworks'
Mark Simpson Photography

Gia T. Presents in 'Frameworks'


The Wood Street Galleries feels like home for Gia T. Presents. As a dancer, improvisor and choreographer, Gia Cacalano says she has always been interested in presenting dance in unusual places, allowing the space to influence her creatively.

Wood Street works for her in many ways. The unique setting suits her unique dancing voice. And the collaborations she has done with visual artists at the gallery fuel her interest in multimedia work.

Friday and Saturday evening, Cacalano presented a new collaborative in their premiere of “Frameworks,” an evening-length piece. Although some of the movement was improvisational, much of it was set choreography, a new way of creating for Cacalano.

The six dancers came from various backgrounds - contemporary, musical theater, even body work, and yoga. Cacalano saw it as a challenge to bring cohesion to the group. In that goal, she definitely succeeded; the ensemble was unified in movement style.

Erwin Redl created the art installation, “Speed Shift,” using LED lights that hung from the ceiling and rushed across the walls via projection. Despite the fact that Cacalano and Redl had not worked together, the lighting provided a lovely accompaniment to the movement. Somehow the randomness of the blinking lights matched the casual nature of the choreography.

To begin, each dancer entered the floor from different parts of the room. In walking patterns, they seemed to be exploring the space. I could see Cacalano’s influence in that regard; it is important to her to have a heightened awareness of the space and surroundings.

The movement built quickly, fluid and continuous, and had the same mesmerizing quality as Cacalano’s previous works. A steady beat of electronic music, by Laurie Spiegel and Jeremy Greenspan, added to the hypnotic nature.

Much of the choreography highlighted the individual. Simultaneous solos happened throughout, in gutsy surges. Moments of duet and trio occurred sparsely. One brief group unison phrase stood out, then fizzled quickly, without predictability.

The effect allowed the audience to watch the choreography in a contemplative way, without feeling we might miss something. For example, as a few dancers played with handstands against the wall, one woman investigated the props (white paper and fabric), while others moved feverishly center stage. Each action was interesting. Nothing competed with anything else.

Highlights of the piece included gestural phrases that broke up the full-bodied release technique, including a shaking motif where the dancers’ entire bodies vibrated. Also, simple intermittent laughter resonated over the music and added depth to the sound. And a long section of high-energy and fast-paced movement had the dancers up and down from the floor repeatedly, showing off their stamina.

Perhaps the only thing missing from the piece was a connection between the dancers themselves. While they all had incredible regard for the space they were in, I craved moments when they simply acknowledged one another with their eyes, recognizing they were part of a group. Because the collective is newly formed, this will no doubt improve as they work together again.