Heidi Latsky Dance to Premiere New Gimp Project Work, 11/15
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Heidi Latsky Dance (HLD) continues to redefine the notions of dance, beauty, and virtuosity through new genre-shattering, cutting-edge performances under the artistic leadership of internationally renowned artist Heidi Latsky (a former dancer with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company). In a shared program with AXIS Dance Company at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on November 15th, HLD presents three daring, critical works that examine the intense, personal and social struggle with physicality: Solo 1, an excerpt from Solo Countersolo (2013), the New York City premiere of Somewhere (2015), and the reincarnation of the site-specific, multi-media movement installation ON DISPLAY (2015). This marks the latest addition to HLD's The GIMP Project, a dance and advocacy project involving both disabled and non-disabled performers.
"We are dedicated to working with unexpected bodies and social justice," says Heidi Latsky, HLD's artistic director/choreographer/performer. "By juxtaposing these three works and putting the human body 'on display,' we strive to be as open and vulnerable as possible, and dare to be seen and heard in our fullness. We hope this program ignites a relevant, urgent conversation about society's obsession with body image." By producing powerful and provocative dance for both disabled and non-disabled performers of all shapes, sizes, and ages, HLD pushes beyond conventional boundaries and subsequently challenges social constructs. A gleaming milestone in the progress of contemporary dance, HLD "beautifully resets preconceptions about bodies and movement (The New Yorker)."
As one enters the lobby of the NYU Skirball Center, the audience is fully immersed in ON DISPLAY, a deconstructed art exhibit/fashion show dripping with authenticity. Through the collection of Brooklyn-based fashion designer Anna Kathleen Little and an austere film by Janet Wong (Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company), choreographer Latsky addresses society's propensity to judge people according to what they look like. "In taking the risk to expose themselves in their full vibrancy, the performers are accepting bits of themselves-bits that are just as real as the tangible parts," explains Latksy. "Oftentimes, this unmasking takes viewers on a difficult, yet enlightening journey that sparks feelings of shame and fascination."
In partnership with Commissioner Victor Calise and the NYC Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, HLD has toured varying versions of ON DISPLAY throughout New York City (Whitney Museum, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, The High Line, David Rubenstein Lincoln Center Atrium, to name a few). This evening's version features a wildly, eclectic group of performers ranging from hand-selected employees and alumni of New York University, to the award-winning dancer Lawrence Goldhuber, Latsky's former dancing partner at Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.
The program's first stage work, Solo 1 from Solo Countersolo, features the agile, 57-year old Latsky moving unrestrictedly to a passionate score by British composer Chris Brierley. A highly emotional exorcism, the work is grounded in ebullient passages of dancing. In a style both eclectic and personal, Latsky "revs up into a kind of scribbling fury with circling hips and knocking knees (The New York Times)."
The second, Somewhere, demonstrates how masterfully Latsky and her dancers accommodate to one another's strengths. Set to original music by Xi.me.na Borges, Somewhere highlights the fullness of each dancer's physicality. This series of intimate movement portraits ranges from wide-legged stances, open chests, and arched backs, to delicate footwork, thrashing and shimmying, to bold arm movements and fluid gestures including some American sign language.
Latsky's definition of a dancer is all-inclusive. HLD features disabled and non-disabled performers, including some with specific physicality's like deafness, hyper flexibility, cerebral palsy, and Parkinson's disease. "I am fascinated by technical virtuosity, but I am just as compelled by someone taking a risk, showing his or her vulnerability, being in a raw state," said Latsky. According to Deborah Jowitt of ArtsJournal, "the harmony among Latsky and these performers and among themselves, as well as what they have achieved in terms of art is a beautiful thing to see. Watching all of them at work can make one both more accepting of one's own limitations and impatient to get on with the business of challenging these."
About Heidi Latsky Dance
Since 2001, is a New York City-based dance company dedicated to redefining beauty through performance, discourse, and educational activity. The GIMP Project, a body of work that includes dancers with and without disabilities, began in 2006 with the critically acclaimed show GIMP that has been presented at venues including Abrons Arts Center, Institute for Contemporary Art, Kennedy Center, Dublin Dance Festival, Scripps College, DaDaFest (Liverpool), Chicago Humanities Festival, Alverno Presents, CREA Conference (Kathmandu), Crossing Borders Festival (Du?sseldorf). GIMP is the subject of Richard Move's short film, GIMP-The Documentary, which premiered at the Film Society of Lincoln Center; an AP multimedia piece; and features on CNN, NET, and NPR. A profile on GIMP on Channel 12 News NJ was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2010. For more information, please visit heidilatskydance.com.