Art in Tribeca: “Shake These Bones”

Tribecan Amy Sewell, who wrote and made the film “Mad Hot Ballroom,” has produced another film about local dancers — this time a documentary about Gibney Company, the dance troupe that has been on Chambers and Broadway for the past decade. “Shake These Bones” sold out at the Big Apple Film Festival this week and is now on its way to the Seattle Film Festival — a biggie.

“Mad Hot Ballroom” was her story about local kids learning ballroom dancing at PS 150 that she originally wrote for the Tribeca Trib and then turned into a documentary in 2005. And this is another Tribeca origin story, tracing Gibney’s preparation as it doubles the size of its ensemble to present a World Premiere Program at the Joyce Theater.

Sewell at first didn’t think it could come together. “Exec producer Bethany Menzies came to me in December of 2019 and said she wanted to make an impact film. I was pessimistic and told her it would cost at least $250K, one third to start,” Sewell recounted. “In January 2020 she called with the $. I was flabbergasted. Plus this film WAS and IS totally Tribeca.”

The documentary spans the company’s journey through the pandemic to opening night in November 2021. The film was produced by Sewell and Menzies, directed by Olga Lvoff with cinematography by Daniel Kharlak. Backing was secured by January 2020 and production began in late February. Two weeks later, the city was on lockdown. Still, the show went on.

Gibney Company was founded 1991 by choreographer Gina Gibney as a socially active dance company with a single dance studio in midtown. By the time the company acquired its second location here at 280 Broadway in 2014, it had expanded to 23 studios, five performance spaces, and 52,000 square feet of space.


Following its 25th anniversary in 2016, the organization re-envisioned Gibney Company to better support its dancers. Now known as Artistic Associates, company members receive 52-week contracts, health insurance, on-site physical therapy, an annual artistic sabbatical, and paid vacation.

The company also commissions work in addition to performing Gina Gibney’s choreography, including pieces from Bryan Arias, Shannon Gillen, Shamel Pitts, Adam Barruch, Chanel DaSilva, Bobbi Jene Smith, Micaela Taylor, Stefanie Batten Bland, Peter Chu, Banning Bouldin, Mark Caserta and Yin Yue. And in January 2020, the company received a $2 million gift from Andrew A. Davis, a trustee of the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund.