Exposing the Effort

As one of the eight pieces in the extent of the China repertory, we are working with Abby Zibikowski.  View her most recent work, Brute Force in Ohio State University’s Dance Department performance Dance Downtown 2013 here. Abby’s movement in undeniably athletic in its commitment to shear physicality, but personally what I find most engaging about her work is its raw intention. It is not decorative nor is it deceptive.  The movement is free from the adornment of ease, surfacing an integrity that is so often submerged in the common performative tradition to eliminate the presence of effort. There is something almost rebellious in this movement intention, and yet, perhaps, it might be more vividly discerned as a purity, exposing movement for its exertion of the body and power of the mover.

"Then This" Rehearsal. OSU China Tour 2014. Photo by Leisa DeCarlo

“Then This” Rehearsal. OSU China Tour 2014. Photo by Leisa DeCarlo

By stripping the performative facade, Abby’s work truly emphasizes and reveals the movement itself. Watching Abby work, I am ceaselessly reminded of not only the incredible capabilities of our own bodies, but of the command of will. In observing her constant hunger for “more,” I’ve become unexpectedly aware of the inherent necessity of training, as it seems the dancers could not launch themselves into deep lunges or whip their arms in multiple directions without the trust of a bodily awareness and efficiency that is conditioned only through the process of “doing.” Her movement style is less an authority over the body and more a will, as the dancer is able to trust his or her efficacy and be aware of a specific connection to space, time, and energy, cultivating an expanse to not only move greater, but with more vigor, and with an exaggerated physicality that might not otherwise be possible.

"Then This" Rehearsal. OSU China Tour 2014. Photo by Leisa DeCarlo.

“Then This” Rehearsal. OSU China Tour 2014. Photo by Leisa DeCarlo.

Again, this is what is seemingly so revolutionary about her work.  With movement at its core, Abby’s style challenges the mover to surprise even him or herself. Her work is not about making the body “do” in the traditional sense, as rather than muscling through the choreography she asks that the dancer navigate momentum, weight, and most vividly, choice. In this way, the dancer exerts extremes decidedly, facilitating not an authority over the body, but of the self. And because of this, the individual enters an expanse of potential, surprising even his or her own concept of possibility.