The Fisher Center at Bard Presents the World Premiere of Beth Gill’s Nail Biter, the Second Fisher Center LAB Commission from the Acclaimed Contemporary Choreographer, March 31 – April 2

Nail Biter Opens the Organization’s 20th Anniversary Season: Breaking Ground

The Fisher Center at Bard begins its 20th Anniversary Season: Breaking Ground with the world premiere of Bessie Award-winning choreographer Beth Gill’s Nail Biter, a dance work that moves the viewer through portals of myth, memoir, psychodrama, and horror. Performances take place March 31 – April 2 in the LUMA Theater. Gill has been acclaimed for “appl[ying] her discerning eye to… dark, chaotic, psychologically tangled worlds” (The New York Times). In Nail Biter, characters emerge as a collection of representations of our collective unconscious, as the work pierces through the existential weight of our time and channels our contemporary angst and anxiety.

Nail Biter is Gill’s second commission from the Fisher Center LAB, following her 2016 performance Catacomb. Carrying out its mission to provide custom-made, meaningful support to artists over an extended time, The Fisher Center LAB  provided Gill with a “dreaming” commission in 2020. This allowed Gill to have financial support during the Pandemic lockdown and the opportunity to reimagine how she works. The initial ideas explored in Nail Biter emerged from that time, and in 2021 the piece was formally commissioned, with a developmental residency at the Fisher Center in May 2022. 

The choreographer dedicates Nail Biter to Rose-Marie Menes, her first dance teacher, who passed away in 2011, as Gill was, as she describes, “in the early stages of dreaming” this work. Gill says of her late mentor, “What I think about now as a professional choreographer and teacher is how unwavering Rose’s dedication to dance was. This field is not easy, and yet she always found ways to do more. She ran a company as well as the school and made multiple productions with hand-painted sets and costumes that she hand-sewed. She created epic worlds and romantic storylines for us to inhabit… She gave me dance and so much more: tradition, discipline, professionalism, obsession, creativity, romanticism, grace, power, and self-determination. She set the course of my career and my life. This piece is in honor of her.” 

Nail Biter brings together a team including Beth Gill (Choreographer), with her long-time collaborators Jon Moniaci (Composer), Baille Younkman (Costume Designer), Thomas Dunn (Lighting and Scenic Designer), Angela F. Kiessel (Production Stage Manager), and Michelle Fletcher (Manager, Beth Gill Works). Performers include Maggie Cloud, Jennifer Lafferty, Jordan Demetrius Lloyd, Marilyn Maywald Yahel, and Beth Gill. 

Gill’s new work kicks off a celebratory opening weekend for a milestone season that reflects the Fisher Center’s role as one of the country’s foremost cross-disciplinary producing institutions, and culminates with the groundbreaking for a new performing arts studio building designed by Maya Lin. On April 1, from 5:30–7:30pm, the Fisher Center will toast two decades of innovation with a 20th Anniversary Launch Party. On April 1 at 7pm and April 2 at 3pm, The Orchestra Now will perform Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, conducted by Maestro Leon Botstein with choral director James Bagwell. Missa solemnis is one of only three sacred works written by Beethoven, and a favorite piece of the late Richard B. Fisher, an influential champion of the arts and the Fisher Center’s namesake. 

Schedule and Ticketing Information

Performances take place in the Fisher Center at Bard’s LUMA Theater, March 31 at 7:30pm, and April 1 & 2 at 5pm. Running time is approximately 50 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

About Beth Gill

Beth Gill is an award-winning choreographer based in New York City since 2005. Her multidisciplinary works are captivating, cinematic timescapes, the product of long-term collaborations with celebrated artists. Gill is the proud recipient of the Herb Alpert, Doris Duke Impact, Foundation for Contemporary Art, and two “Bessie” awards. She has produced eight commissioned evening-length works met with critical acclaim. She has toured nationally and internationally and has been honored with (among others): Guggenheim Fellowship, NEFA’s National Dance Project grant, Princeton’s Hodder Fellowship, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Extended Life Artist in Residence.
Gill’s dances are serious, slow-moving, and chiseled, meditative experiences poised between performance and visual art. They feel like pressurized objects sustaining tension and seeking release. Paradoxically her work is both intimate and alienated, sensual and ascetic. She dreams and visualizes her dances, transforming her unconscious into iconographic choreography. The imagery and symbolism resonate, inviting audiences into associative thought. In this way, her work is in dialogue with contemporary psychology and folk traditions.


Nail Biter is co-commissioned by the Fisher Center at Bard, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Walker Art Center. The development of Nail Biter was supported by funding from the King’s Fountain and by CPR – Center for Performance Research’s Artist-in-Residence Program, which is made possible, in part, through Dance/NYC’s Rehearsal Space Subsidy Program made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. This project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant. Beth Gill is fiscally sponsored by the Foundation for Independent Artists, Inc., a non-profit organization administered by Pentacle (DanceWorks, Inc). Pentacle is a non-profit management support organization for the performing arts.

The Fisher Center is generously supported by Jeanne Donovan Fisher, the Martin and Toni Sosnoff Foundation, the Advisory Boards of the Fisher Center at Bard and Bard Music Festival, and Fisher Center and Bard Music Festival members, the Ettinger Foundation, the Thendara Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature. The 23-24 season of Fisher Center LAB has received funding from members of the Live Arts Bard Creative Council, the Lucille Lortel Foundation, and the Fisher Center’s Artistic Innovation Fund, with lead support from Rebecca Gold and S. Asher Gelman ’06 through the March Forth Foundation.
About the Fisher Center at Bard
The Fisher Center develops, produces, and presents performing arts across disciplines through new productions and context-rich programs that challenge and inspire. As a premier professional performing arts center and a hub for research and education, the Fisher Center supports artists, students, and audiences in the development and examination of artistic ideas, offering perspectives from the past and present as well as visions of the future. The Fisher Center demonstrates Bard’s commitment to the performing arts as a cultural and educational necessity. Home is the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and located on the campus of Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley. The Fisher Center offers outstanding programs to many communities, including the students and faculty of Bard College, and audiences in the Hudson Valley, New York City, across the country, and around the world. Building on a 163-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders.
The Center presents more than 200 world-class events and welcomes 50,000 visitors each year. The Fisher Center supports artists at all stages of their careers and employs more than 300 professional artists annually. The Fisher Center is a powerful catalyst for art-making regionally, nationally, and worldwide. Every year it produces 8 to 10 major new works in various disciplines. Over the past five years, its commissioned productions have been seen in more than 100 communities around the world. During the 2018–2019 season, six Fisher Center productions toured nationally and internationally. In 2019, the Fisher Center won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical for Daniel Fish’s production of Oklahoma!, which began its life in 2007 as an undergraduate production at Bard and was produced professionally in the Fisher Center’s SummerScape Festival in 2015 before transferring to New York City.

About Fisher Center LAB
Fisher Center LAB is the Fisher Center’s artist residency and commissioning program, providing custom-made and meaningful support for innovative artists across disciplines. Since its launch in 2012, Fisher Center LAB has supported residencies, workshops, and performances for hundreds of artists, incubating new projects and engaging audiences, students, faculty, and staff in the process of creating contemporary performances. LAB strives to provide artists with the environment, resources, and funding they need to experiment, dream, and fully realize their artistic potential. Where possible, Fisher Center LAB builds long-term relationships for artists, powering their work by taking on administrative and producing support of their practices and companies. Productions developed by Fisher Center LAB often premiere in the annual Bard SummerScape festival and frequently tour around the country and across the world.

This event was last updated on 03-27-2023