Gina Gibney, Virtual Unknown, Becomes Power Broker of Contemporary Dance
Dibney, Gibney? “Who is this woman?”
By Alex Traub
On the night of May 14, a small group of dancers were smoking outside a fundraiser in downtown Manhattan. As they discussed the work of various underappreciated choreographers, attention was suddenly turned to a short redheaded woman who had just exited the event and was walking away. “That’s Gina Gibney?” asked Connor Voss, a startled young dancer. Yes, the group confirmed, it was. Mr. Voss watched Ms. Gibney round the street corner. “Fund me, please?” he said in her direction.
Mr. Voss is not the only one asking: Ms. Gibney is currently one of contemporary dance’s most powerful figures in New York. The center of her new influence is 280 Broadway, a two-story building just north of City Hall on which she signed a lease in January. Ms. Gibney now has 17 studios, three theaters, and 51,000 square feet under her control. This past year she received millions of dollars in donations to help her run it all. The Connor Vosses of the city turn their heads when she walks by.
Beloved spaces like Joyce SoHo and the Trisha Brown dance facility have closed; many others have had to move or shrink. Since the early ’90s, Ms. Gibney estimates, the death toll around Union Square alone includes 20 venues where she once performed.