IMPRESSIONS: Jennifer Tipton "Our Days and Night" at Baryshnikov Arts Center 

IMPRESSIONS: Jennifer Tipton "Our Days and Night" at Baryshnikov Arts Center 
Deirdre Towers/Follow @spiffmoves on Twitter

By Deirdre Towers/Follow @spiffmoves on Twitter
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Published on December 23, 2022
Ain Gordon, Liz Gerring; Photo:Maria Baranova

Light and Text by Jennifer Tipton 

Dance Conceived by Jennifer Tipton 

Performers: Liz Gerring and Ain Gordon 

Space Design by Michael Yeargan 

Sound Design by Scott Lehrer


two dancers in circle of light,stare at a purple ball of light on the backwall of their stage space. Their backs are towards us, they are in deep concentration
Ain Gordon and Liz Gerring in Jennifer Tipton's Our Days and Night; Photo: Maria Baranova
 
The star of veteran lighting designer Jennifer Tipton’s show Our Days and Night is a star of her own making. The proximity of this star, its size, its unrivaled dominance provokes questions, and/or, induces a trance, if you’d rather have a non-cerebral relationship to this energetic being. Tipton brings you into her world of lighting design, and wordlessly makes you muse the mysteries of theatrical timing, spatial perception, and change. 
 
Beginning in the dark, Tipton slowly expands a dot of light on the floor, until it fills the stage. Gradually, the floor starts to ripple, as though a breeze invited the light to dance. Just as slowly, the light - still in its circular shape - shifts to the cement back wall, only to reveals its inner colors, sliding from cool blue to red hot.
 
ain gordon a white man in a black shirt and grey sweats sits on a cross of light on the floor, as Liz Gerring, her back to us jumps towards a golden orb projected on the back wall asif it is a full moon dancing in the night sky
Ain Gordon  (foreground) and Liz Gerring (background); Photo: Maria Baranova
 
The two performers, Liz Gerring and Ain Gordon, appear midway through the piece. Tipton’s conception is produced with minimalist rigor,  each pedestrian move is brief, each pose long, with only a few lighting options-- shifting lights from overhead, from the side, and weaving beams like gleaming swords. 
 
When Gerring first enters she thrusts her elbow in a beam, like a swimmer testing the temperature of the sea with her toe. Later, she extends her straight arms into a beam twisting them as though to see how best to wear the light. Initially, the two performers simply share the space, dividing and defining it, until they eventually sit with their backs to the audience to gaze at the light on the wall. Transfixed, they invite us to wonder.
 
The nuggets of text were few and often hard to hear, whether spoken by Gordon or delivered as a voiceover woven into an intriguing sound design by Scott Lehrer whose score sometimes has the rickety rhythm of a subway.
 
Conceived by Tipton after a lifetime of designing lights for operas, Broadway, Off-Broadway, ballet, and experimental productions, this installation, “is designed to show the relationship of the earth to the sun, tracing the origin and precarity of the sun’s support of life, and exploring the visual archetypes of the seasons.”
 
two dancers contemplate the golden orb as they sit huddled together in a small circle
Ain Gordon and Liz Gerring in Jennifer Tipton's  Our Days and Night; Photo: Maria Baranova
 
Tipton’s recent work in dance includes Lauren Lovette’s PENTIMENTO for the Paul Taylor Company and Balanchine’s MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM for the Paris Opera Ballet. She received the 2019-20 Cage Cunningham Fellowship, an award established in 2015 for artists who demonstrate John Cage and Merce Cunningham’s commitment to artistic innovation.

 

 

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