This February 4 and 5 Maya Billig premiers her latest dance theater work Gate Closes at 3:05 at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. The show is described as, “Through contemporary movement and original live instrumental elements blended with electronic sounds, the audience is invited to lounge, strap-in, and take flight. The performance masterfully weaves narratives and electric encounters that are threaded together by notes of surrealism, outer space, the roaring 20s, and of course, the 3-0-5”
Between rehearsals creator Maya Billig took the time to hop on The Jitney and answer a few questions.
What inspired Gate Closes at 3:05?
Originally inspired by lockdown and missing the healing that takes place on the dance floor and within intimate spaces, the work has evolved simultaneously alongside the ongoing pandemic. Over the course of the year, the world in which the work takes place was steadily discovered. The speakeasy is the container where four characters and three musicians intertwine their histories, vulnerabilities, and personal vendettas as they unravel aboard the ship. The piece draws inspiration from Cowboy Bebop, the roaring 20’s, Budapest ruin bars, Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, house music, and Miami itself. Through contemporary dance theater, thoughtful set design by Hans Lau, and original live instrumental elements blended with electronic sounds, the audience is invited to enter this surreal mix of inspirations and characters.
What was the process of creating it from inspiration to completion?
Gate Closes at 3:05 began as a seed that was planted when Knight New Work 2020 called for artists to reimagine the performing arts during Covid-19. With a longing for dance floors amidst lockdown, I began collaborating with DJ/producer Charles Levine from world-renowned duo Soul Clap, as well as Phill Celeste known as Life on Planets. Later, Greg Paulus from No Regular Play would join the musical experience of Gate Closes at 3:05. With theaters still closed, the work would be performed in a parking lot at Miami Light Project. The dancers and I worked with the task of figuring out how to bring groove, intimacy, and life into such a static, yet transient space. After the first development of the work, the piece went on to receive continuing support from the Knight Foundation to see it through to full production. Miami Light Project also commissioned the work and became my presenter. Going into the final development of Gate Closes at 3:05, the piece went through something of a make-over as the world and direction became clearer, including moving into the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. I spent two months traveling solo throughout Iceland, Germany, Greece, and Albania rediscovering what it felt like to be around new spaces after two years of being unable to travel. Drawing from inspirations and dance training from my travels, I came back to the project with a renewed sense of adventure and motivation. The three musicians created an original hour-length score that perfectly encapsulates the surreal, gritty, yet beautiful feeling of Gate Closes at 3:05. At the end of the summer of 2021, I was selected as a Jacob’s Pillow Hicks Choreographic Fellow, where I was mentored and given valuable feedback on my choreographic process and world-building. The choreography continued to naturally fall into place and brought us to where we are now: the premiere of Gate Closes at 3:05.
How has Miami influenced you as an artist?
There is no “me” without mentioning Miami. This city that raised me and is my home is such a whirlwind of languages, cultures, and histories. A true melting pot that inspired my need to see the world. It also spearheaded my fondness for irony, humor, and the ridiculous. I have found a sincere home within the artistic community here and I can feel my Miami come out in everything that I make. My work is a statement that “yes, art lives here and it is here to stay.”
What can audiences expect from Gate Closes at 3:05?
Audiences can expect to be immersed the moment they walk through the lobby at The Light Box. The night is composed of weaving narratives and electric encounters threaded together by notes of space fantasy, dystopian future, of course, Miami. Soulful live music will be pumping through the speakers as the dancers set off on a course of rigorous contemporary dance that fuses accomplished technique with physical theater. There’s humor, there’s joy, there’s peculiarities, and there’s vulnerability. It is a space for everyone.