Colby theater and dance student graduates in May, moves to New York in September, gets recruited in October for a role in a mystery-shrouded video. The project, it turns out, is David Bowie’s “Blackstar.” The video is released in November, Bowie dies in January, and as this was being written (Jan. 14), the Colby dancer had more than 15 million viewers on YouTube.
That’s the story Sara Gibbons ’15 tells, after moving to the city to pursue a career in dance and being recruited by a dance colleague for a vaguely described project. “I knew it was a little bigger than some friends getting together to make their own video when I had to sign a nondisclosure agreement,” she said. When the video coordinator finally introduced Bowie and he shook all the dancers’ hands, “It was very surreal,” Gibbons said.
In the wake of Bowie’s death in January, Gibbons said, “Watching it now, listening to the lyrics, and the other video, ‘Lazarus,’ it seems he was trying to tell us something. It definitely holds a new meaning.” Gibbons appears in a black-and-white striped dress in the 10-minute “Blackstar” video.
Gibbons grew up listening to Bowie; her father attended concerts while in school in London in the 1970s and remains a fan. She was a fan herself before she met him, adding “I liked him for his larger message too, for acceptance of quirky, outcast people.”
Gibbons double majored in theater and dance and in human development at Colby and graduated magna cum laude with honors and distinction in theater and dance and distinction in human development. Her honors thesis included a dance performance titled “Into the Frame of Us,” which explored “the oversaturation and repurposing of disparate, simultaneous, and idiosyncratic events.”
Gibbons is dancing as an apprentice with David Dorfman Dance, a New York company that’s been on a mission to “get the whole world dancing” for three decades. She was preparing for a performance at New York City Center Studios and Gibney Dance as apart of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) the following weekend, and the company was rehearsing for an NYC area premiere in 2017. Gibbons is also pursuing her own works in dance, planning a show in the fall.
Dancing for David Bowie? “It was really quite a start,” she said.