Nora the explorer

Experience begets wisdom if one is willing to locate lessons mixed among setbacks and sorrows. While everyone wishes to obtain durable delights, all things must pass, and the reverence that we long to give exclusively to joy must also become an endowment for woe. Our finite natures have us perpetually pondering actions and thoughts, with Nora Gibson hoping those musings yield determination to contribute any way possible to the eternal mystery that is life. Tomorrow through Sunday, she will address drives to maximize and value time through “Ephemeral,” her eponymous ballet entity’s second full-scale production.

“Dealing with departures is often very difficult, and doing so reiterates that time is such a limited commodity,” Gibson said. “Parting is a dispassionate process of nature, but that doesn’t mean it’s without any beauty.”

The Newbold resident will choreograph seven dancers’ displays of what fleeting flesh and momentary minds can channel with regards to comprehending our exchanges with time. Also considering life cycles and seasons, the hourlong offering will finds its creator continuing her quest to make work that is “a story about an idea.”

“I’m very much an advocate for understanding the infinite arc of possibility and achievement,” Gibson said. “I know that knowledge can come through a number of pursuits, and I’m also aware that as we acquire insights, we’re simultaneously losing time to implement them. I feel I’ve grown up considerably over the years, and I want to make use of that maturity to explore the benefits of never slowing our curiosity down.”

The voracious learner and her hires will present their observations at Christ Church Neighborhood House Theater, with the brainchild running concurrently with the 2016 Philadelphia Screendance Festival, Nora Gibson Contemporary Ballet’s newest niche film celebration. The former finds Gibson fulfilling a desire to collaborate with individuals possessing developed methods and strong points of view, with both serving as musts for a project so deeply enamored with being receptive to inconstancy’s constancy.

“We all eventually need to tackle many tough questions about our lives and aspirations,” the thoughtful practitioner said of mortality’s motivational identity. “I’m very interested in pushing myself and seeing what I can do for this art form, especially because it has bred so many watershed moments for me.”

A press release for “Ephemeral” notes of time that “we are both in its fabric and observers of it.” With each day that she looks to evolve and educate, the latter action apparent through locations such as Temple University and the University of the Arts, she believes that the more one wishes to find something to say, the more that person will realize the universe’s willingness to listen.

“Yet we obviously can’t wait forever to make a move,” Gibson said. “Even with the best intentions, we’re still so condensed in what we can do. As I’ve said before and fully believe, there’s beauty in those alterations, though. That’s what we’re after with ‘Ephemeral.’”

Nearly seven years in Newbold have helped the figure to dub Philadelphia an amazing expanse for exploring her creative pursuits and fraternizing with passionate thinkers and doers. The Maryland native started ballet training at age 9, with the fluidity of her frame eventually positioning her to commence a career that found her dancing professionally just as adolescence began.

“It was a compelling force immediately,” Gibson said of her discipline. “I became aware pretty early on that I wanted to dance all day. The whole idea of training and bettering myself proved too powerful to think about refusing.”

Incredible tutelage at the Baltimore School for the Arts, with Gibson singling out instructor Sylvester Campbell, often tabbed “the black Nureyev,” intensified her immersion and contributed to her acceptance to the Tisch School of the Arts. That New York City stint, while certainly encouraging Gibson to think objectively about her skill set, had a dampening effect on her spirit and sense of connection to her roots, but the emotionally well-heeled artist would not let the Big Apple devour her diligence.

“There’s something humbling about the call to return to something we put aside,” she said of enlisting Philadelphia to end the hiatus she took from her vocation. “I think Philadelphia has helped me to reclaim my original path and is sating my desires to dance, teach, rehearse, and create. It shifts and changes and pushes us to do the same. It’s where I feel I can truly live the life of an artist.”

Inspecting her résumé makes evident the rewards of resiliency, with residencies and accolades easily capable of producing nods among perusers, particularly for her three-year tenure performing pieces by lauded postmodern dancer/choreographer Lucinda Childs. Thrilled to handle the composition of others, Gibson, who divulged that she made up her own pieces as early as age 11, also wants to step down from the shoulders of giants to craft original content, with last February’s “2^57,885,161 – 1” touching on her attraction to understanding how science, mathematics, and the unknown affect our lives. “Ephemeral” registers as a noteworthy successor to the 30-minute endeavor’s aims and prompts Gibson to contend it can help her to be more philosophical because it reveals her infatuation with acquiring and giving knowledge.

“In my youth and early adulthood, I’d say I had blinders on when considering the world and my comprehension of it,” Gibson, whose increased confidence and conviction have also fostered a happy domestic situation for her husband and daughter, said. “I want to think I’m headed toward even more provocative realizations because it’s comforting to know that even in an unsteady world, we can be true to ourselves by investigating our surroundings and finding some means to make them better.” ■

Visit and

Contact Editor Joseph Myers at or ext. 124.

Portrait Photo By Tina Garceau | Production Photos Provided By Frank Bicking