Sorry I Missed Your Show: Jennifer Nugent

Sorry I Missed Your Show: Jennifer Nugent

by Elizabeth Jankovic

On Wednesday, October 28, Gibney Dance held a Zoom event called, “Sorry I Missed Your Show: Jennifer Nugent.”  The virtual event showcased fragments of Jennifer’s duet titled “another piece apart,” a piece performed with her dance partner Paul Matteson.

The event began at 6:30pm EST via Zoom Webinar, equipped with a chat box for “affirmations, hellos, and greetings,” as stated by event host Dani Cole, Gibney Dance’s Curatorial Associate and Artist Coordinator.  There was also a Q&A box where attendees could submit questions for the post-dance question-and-answer.

The Gibney event was very user-friendly, with two ASL interpreters to sign for the night as well as verbal descriptors of the speakers (Jennifer and Dani both described what they looked like, what they were wearing, and where they were).  

Gibney also acknowledged and paid respect to the Native American tribes and lands on which their sites are situated.

After introducing the dance company and hosts, Dani introduced Jennifer’s duet piece:

“Jennifer Nugent and Paul Matteson are known for their phenomenal partnering work, creating duets that are intense, forceful, and passionate. Their duet, another piece apart, rests in silence, reflecting on a history of a fractured togetherness and a shared love for dance. The movement is off-balanced yet precise and multi-focused, blurring the boundaries between bodies in space.” 

Jennifer explained that the duet explores “boundaries of skin and the charged spaces in between.”  She said it’s about getting better at differentiating somatic experiences and the celebrating of two.  

After describing the general meaning of the piece, Jennifer shared her screen to show the first chunk of the piece, which was 14 and a half minutes long.  In the video, Jennifer and Paul emerged onto a dark stage wearing dark bottoms, long sleeve red shirts, and sneakers.  

One unique aspect of this dance in particular was the choice to not use sound.  Since the duo were always rehearsing in silence, and felt nitpicky about music, they chose not to use any at all.  Although a silent piece, the squeak of sneakers across the dance floor reminded me of kids playing basketball at a park.  

The dance itself was very intimate, some movements reminding me of duo yoga poses and even an odd sort of wrestling.  A few minutes into the dance, the two each took off their shoes and socks, followed by their tops and bottoms, leaving them with red tank tops and tight shorts.  The dancers got breathier at certain points, even occasionally grunting, simulating what seemed to be a sexual experience.

Another part of the piece that Jennifer refers to as “the corridor” featured the dancers prancing, walking, and running while holding onto each other, moving together in synchronicity as one unit.  

Jennifer said her and Paul’s “best partnering has a problem-solving logic,” and they enjoy exploring duets that challenge what has been done.  For “another piece apart,” Jennifer said that the duet felt more like a practice where they invite intimacy between the dancers and the audience members.

After showing the various dance clips, Jennifer and Dani turned their attention to participants, inviting questions and comments in the chat boxes.  A couple reactions from attendees were:

“Such an elegant, vulnerable and deep presentation–as I would expect from watching your work. Thank you so much for sharing with us!” – Eva

ease and density! a beautifully complicated and welcomed experience as I watched” – Rachel Mckinstry