Galumpha returns for Anderson Center show
Troupe last performed at Binghamton University in October 2013
Andy Horowitz beams when talking about the newest performers in Galumpha: Gil Young Choi and Brianna Barnett.
“I don’t know what I would do without Gil and Bri,” said Horowitz, the co-founder, president and performer of the troupe that combines dance, acrobatics and physical comedy. “They feel like dear old friends. We’ve already done hundreds of shows together.”
Galumpha will return to the Anderson Center stage for the first time in nearly four years for a performance at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16. Tickets are $20 for the general public; $18 for faculty/staff/alumni/seniors; and $10 for students and children.
The show will feature 16 dances, including four that have never been performed in Binghamton. One of the new dances incorporates artificial legs, while another called “Forwards Backwards” goes to a middle point and then reverses to the starting point.
The new dances have only been seen by a select group of audiences to ensure that they are ready for the Anderson Center crowd.
“We’ll be racing,” Horowitz said of the one-act show. “Our off-stage times are going to be short. We will be moving from dance to dance.”
The show will also be the first time that many in the audience have seen the chemistry of Horowitz, Choi and Barnett. The latter two joined the troupe in 2015.
Horowitz first met Choi when the then-Binghamton University student did an impromptu audition for the “Orpheus” dance show in a Fine Arts Building hallway.
“Gil started to do the nuttiest dance I had ever seen,” recalled Horowitz, a 1989 Binghamton University graduate who is also an artist-in-residence at the University. “He had such chutzpah. It was filled with so much joy and drive. I knew ‘Orpheus’ had already been cast, but I saw this guy with this spark and thought: This is the dancer I need.”
Horowitz was in the process of trying to replace William Matos, who had wanted to leave the road after six years with Galumpha. Choi debuted with the trio in March 2015.
“Gil didn’t have a lot of dance technique coming in, but he’s a sensitive actor who brings his soul to his performances,” Horowitz said. “He is a top-notch dancer filled with humor, reverence, youth and drive. Gil is a wonder.”
Soon after replacing Matos, Horowitz learned he had to replace the third member of Galumpha, as Emiko Okamoto became a graduate student in dance therapy at Sarah Lawrence College. Horowitz tried to replace Okamoto with someone from the Binghamton University community, but “there was nobody who had the combination of strength, technique and availability,” he said.
Dance instructor Susan Schneider then recommended several local dancers to Horowitz, including a New York Giants cheerleader who recalled seeing Galumpha as a child at dance class.
Horowitz met Barnett at a Starbucks and was hooked. Barnett debuted with Galumpha on New Year’s Eve 2015.
“She is a killer dancer with great technique,” he said. “Muscular, limber, strong. But when we got to rehearsals, my questions were: Can she mix it up? Can she do a dance like ‘Weird Sisters’ in which we are all screaming? What happens when we start to create? The answer was: Like a fish to water. Just like Gil, she’s not dancing to show off technique. She’s dancing to tell a story – and tell it she does.”
The new Galumpha has continued the troupe’s steady touring pattern of performing all around the United States and internationally in countries such as New Zealand and Italy.
“We have it all in our company: male, female, young, old, black, white, Asian, Jewish,” Horowitz said of the group’s diversity. “Everybody is a mixture. And we are even tying each other in physical knots!”
Horowitz has been the constant in Galumpha since the troupe was formed in 2002. At 57, he shows no signs of slowing down.
“I know that I’m replaceable,” he said. “Believe me, there is no vanity in me that says I need to be in the company. The company would be just fine without me. In truth, I just love to do it. So far, I’m able to do it, so I keep doing it.”
Horowitz recalled being inspired by a conversation he had with another former Binghamton student: the legendary dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones.
“We’ve got stories to tell,” Horowitz said. “People accept that actors can be old, but recent dance is so youth-driven. We watch (TV) shows that highlight acrobatic abilities of 16-year-olds or magnificent athleticism. That’s one thing. But there is another side to it. There is artistry, storytelling, wisdom and careful choices.
“I think that we as older performers have valid stories to tell – and I think that the audiences agree.”