Heidi Latsky’s definition of a dancer is all-inclusive. Age and physical limitations don’t come into it. She explores the beauty in all bodies while maintaining rigorous aesthetic standards.
Her company’s debut at the American Dance Festival offers Latsky’s intriguing new program, “Triptych.” Its three sections, together lasting a little over an hour, are designed to be presented in any order, varying each evening.
At Sunday’s performance, the program began with “Somewhere,” its 10 dancers clad in various white tops and pants. They were first seen in murky shadows with one arm raised. As one of the several dozen hanging bulbs started to glow, the dancers began moving, with emphasis on outstretched arms and sudden low swoops, in a constant rush of steps.
From a chair with his back to the audience, Robert Simpson used his arms and hands to sculpt the air with lyrical gestures, evoking the wings of a crane. Later, Jerron Herman, his left arm permanently locked in an outstretched position, whirled and twisted with intense energy. From a kneeling position, Alexandria Wailes’ expressive hands wove fleeting patterns and ritualistic signals. No defense was necessary for these performers’ Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy and deafness, respectively.
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Next came a 14-minute film, “Soliloquy,” in which these three dancers, along with others of varying abilities, are featured, first in extreme close-up (eyes, necks, elbows), then slowly revealing more of their bodies. In dreamy overlapping images that look like classic paintings, the bodies become individuals with palpable personalities.
Finishing out the evening was “Solo Countersolo,” Latsky’s piece for herself and five others, all in black costuming. While the others held shifting poses, Latsky began a slow undulation that grew intensely frenetic, expending impressive energy for someone in her mid-50s. To Xi.me.na Borges’ rhythmic, eclectic score, the six dancers then worked through a number of solos and combinations, often introducing elements from the previous program segments. Despite being a little too long for what it establishes, the piece keeps the eye on the move.
Latsky’s mission is both admirable and artistic, combining art with heart.
What: Heidi Latsky Dance, presented by the American Dance Festival
Where: Reynolds Industries Theater, Bryan Center, Duke University, 125 Science Drive, Durham
When: 8 p.m. June 22-23
Info: 919-684-4444 or americandancefestival.org