Nora Gibson Contemporary Ballet N o t h i n g T h a t I s N o t T h e r e, April 21-22

In partnership with The Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Science Festival, and Drexel University’s Dynamic Multi-functional Materials Laboratory, Nora Gibson Contemporary Ballet  (NGCB) will premiere a new, evening-length ballet, N o t h i n g T h a t I s N o t T h e r e, on April 21st and 22nd at The Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street in Philadelphia. This will be the first time that ballet has been featured as a key highlight of the Philadelphia Science Festival, celebrating the intersection of both science and art.

N o t h i n g T h a t I s N o t T h e r e is Nora Gibson’s most philosophical work to date as it challenges both the content and context for ballet. So, why present ballet in the context of a science festival? Gibson has teamed up with Dr. Leslie Lamberson’s Dynamic Multi-functional Materials Laboratory at Drexel University to examine the artistic process and perform an analysis through a scientific lens, asking the questions, “what is ballet when quantified? What is an aesthetic signature? How can artistic choices be made using objective data gathered through sensors?”  Gibson goes on to add, “this process triggered other considerations, such as how the objectification of an aesthetic form can influence a new ballet.” Collaborating with the scientific team at Drexel allowed Gibson to pursue an artistic inquiry that is radical for ballet, while facilitating a controlled study for the scientists, who will be producing a paper for a journal pertinent to their work. Symbiosis: now that’s beautiful!

N o t h i n g T h a t I s N o t T h e r e, choreographed by Nora Gibson, features a cast of 7 classically trained dancers, and is set to an experimental electronic music score from the 70’s. The second half of the piece features projected animated graphics generated by the engineer’s experiments, where Gibson’s choreographic phrases were quantified on the basis of acceleration on six different axes via small sensors attached to the dancers. In performance, the synthesis of the projections and dance, during the second half of the ballet, is a contemporary reference to vintage classical ballets that take one to a mythical or mystical land in the 2nd Act (such as, Giselle, for example). In this case, the “mystical” land is more of an expression of the state of awe and one has in the discovery of the beautiful science that defines/contains our existence.

N o t h i n g T h a t I s N o t T h e r e
April 21 – 22
7pm: Interactive physics-based displays courtesy of the Philadelphia Science Festival and Drexel University’s Dynamic Multifunctional Materials Laboratory;
8pm: Concert (running time, 53 minutes – No late seating / intermission)
Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine St., Phila, 19130
Information: http://www.performancegarage.org/nothing-that-is-not-there
Tickets:  $18 General Admission, $15 Students & Dance Professionals
Online at http://www.philasciencefestival.org/event/220-dance-engineered-science-and-art-intersect

***Photo credit: Nora Gibson