In relationship to our conversation about Charles Mee and his “Notes on Casting,” I was reminded of Dancer/Choreographer Heidi Latsky and a piece she is touring with titled “Gimp.” The piece mixes fully able-bodied dancers with “disabled” dancers to challenge our perception that “disabled” people lack ability, especially in relationship to movement and performance. With an extremely physical score, each and every performer is forced to push there abilities past 110%. In their own words:
GIMP examines the uncompromising ways we are often identified or defined by our physicality; an elegant landscape of portraits, illuminating limbs to accentuate uncommon beauty, mystery and grace; the ways in which our bodies support and rebel.
GIMP confronts the audience with their preconceptions, challenging us to re-think accepted notions about dance, performance and body image. An exploration, that dives into the heart of difference, voyeurism and the unexpected.
The Organizational Mission is to:
envision a society where:
- all bodies are recognized as viable, fascinating and expressive instruments;
- difference is upheld, not feared;
- increased understanding and communication take the place of isolation, alienation and lack of contact;
- people learn to “live in” their own skin and do not detach from their bodies because of external and internally assimilated judgments and conventional standards;
- one is encouraged to “own” one’s body, value it and use it to be expressive and truthful in ways that are empowering, enriching and unique;
- a strong work ethic is valued and implemented;
- and a high standard of excellence is not only desired but is achieved through sustained work and focus.
Something that intrigues me about the process is that Heidi Latsky, a former Bill T. Jones dancer, is able-bodied. How does this inform the work? In general, this seems like a wonderful piece of performance that has produced community dialogue through positive outreach programming.
Here is a video of excerpts from the piece:
If this work interests you, there are a lot of youtube clips available for viewing, along with lots of information on her website, Heidi Latsky Dance.