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Flash Review 1, 5-19: Heal Thyself, but Engage Thine Audience
Disjointed Dance from Heidi Latsky

By Chappelle Chambers
Copyright 2006 Chappelle Chambers

NEW YORK -- An indication of how times have changed can be found in Heidi Latsky's "Disjointed," which played last weekend at the Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church. Billed as a tribute to Latsky's mother, who died in 2004 after a series of grueling brain surgeries, it -- or at least its advance publicity -- brings to mind the huge uproar in the dance world a decade ago, when Bill T. Jones, with whom Latsky danced for years, presented "Still/Here," another work about people battling terminal illness.

The difference between that piece and this one is that Jones's work was explicit, featuring the images of the sick on video and their voices, and those of their loved ones, filling the air, along with much virtuosic dancing by the members of Jones's troupe. Latsky's piece is much more subtle. It opens in a church sanctuary, where white paper tissues have been heaped like so many albino autumn leaves; as one sits in the audience, more tissues drift down from overhead and land in one's lap. The hour-long work contains an embedded duet by Sean Curran (another Jones alum), but it's hard, in the hypnotic atmosphere of the work, to tell where one artist's hand takes up and the other's lets go. Three compact, competent soloists are featured: Latsky herself, Jeffrey Freeze, and Nathan Trice, all dressed in black. At the start Freeze sprawls across Latsky, but later they take up stances in various bright spots on the floor as a procession of white-clad "corps" members (including guests and members of Latsky's ensemble), wearing hats meant to symbolize affronts to their heads, snake around them. Video by Alison Rootberg is projected on the sanctuary's vaulted ceiling, but like much else about this piece, I could not find a way to read its images, let alone the semaphor-like shapes in the live choreography.

Trice spends the early moments of the work alone on the side riser, and gradually moves through the space to partner Latsky and then to abscond with Freeze; while the two men dance together, Latsky mirrors Trice's gestures. That he represented death never crossed my mind until another reviewer pointed it out. Freeze, by training a show dancer (he played the baby swan in Matthew Bourne's "Swan Lake" during its 1999 New York run) and sporting a Prince Valiant haircut, is a dedicated and intense performer, and Latsky here seemed cool and distant. Much love and care has obviously gone into the construction and performance of this dance, but trying to read its symbolism proved fruitless for this viewer. The work may have great significance and healing power for Latsky herself, but for this member of the audience its meanings remain obscure.

 

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