I recently connected with one of the most delightful and innovative choreographers in the modern dance world. Gina Gibney founded Gina Gibney Dance 10 years ago and Gina is as much of an altruist as she is a creative force. GGD is an all women dance company that, when not performing, hosts several different kinds of community workshops that are based on the belief that movement can be a significant part of recovering from trauma. Every Saturday GGD dancers host “recharge+reconnect,” an open class for individuals who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2006 Gina launched the Domestic Violence Project, which works with women in Safe Horizons, an organization that provides shelter for survivors of domestic violence. GGD company members, also referred to as “Teaching Artists,” lead movement classes to help women in Safe Horizons shelters regain autonomy and a sense of tranquility in their lives.
Last fall I started working as an advocate with SAVI, a crisis intervention program which provides emotional and logstical support for individuals who come into hopsital emergency departments having survived sexual assault or domestic violence. When I found out about how Gina’s company merged social advocacy with dance, I invited Gina to coffee to learn more. Last Saturday I hung out in Gina’s office to help her work on a project called ‘Moving Ahead’ for the women in the Domestic Violence Project. Moving Ahead provides a six series workshop in which the Teaching Artists pair with “Career Mentors” (mostly Board Members and volunteers) who have successful, high-powered careers. The Career Mentors and Teaching Artists hold discussions and workshops for the participants to support them in envisioning their future, writing resumes, and developing skills for the work world.
Gina is an incredibly patient, inspired, and unpretentious woman and I had a blast working with her. She and I wrote and assembled packets to the Board Members/Career Mentors to orient them to the project, including information on the dynamics of domestic abuse and a short discussion of the goals of each workshop. Gina has open classes at her studios in 890 Broadway, which is also home to ABT and Eliot Field Tech Ballet. I’m going to be working with Gina on Saturdays on her many of her projects, so check back for updates on working with GGD!
(Top: A photograph of Gina published in the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair celebrating the addition of Gina Gibney Dance to the Vanity Fair Hall of Fame. See the Gina Gibney Dance website to view the article.)