IMPRESSIONS: Heidi Latsky Dance’s “Unfinished: A way out” at Dixon Place
May 4, 2019
Concept and Choreography: Heidi Latsky in collaboration with HLD dancers
Lighting Design: Keith Kirkland
Music Director: Ximena Borges
Dancers: Meredith Fages, Tiffany Geigel, Jerron Herman, Jillian Hollis, Heidi Latsky
On a dim stage, a ghost-like figure moves in a breathy solo, spiraling around herself like a helix. Above her in the balcony, another heavenly figure appears. Lit from behind in a warm wash of amber, she sculpts the space in slow, deliberate arcs. These opening moments of Heidi Latsky Dance’s Unfinished: a way out suggest heaven and earth in a relationship, orbiting around each other yet distinctly separate.
It takes a moment to notice that the dancer on the balcony, Tiffany Geigel, is disabled. She has Jarcho-Levin Syndrome, a bone growth disorder, which causes her spine to grow in a curve. As a core part of her mission and work, Heidi Latsky is committed to reflecting diversity. Her company employs a physically integrated staff, from performers to board leaders. The choreography — athletic, weighted, complex, and demanding — neither highlights nor ignores the physical disparities of her performers. Rather, the focus is on the individual characteristics of each dancer, the raw vulnerability of movement, and the beauty inherent in the human form.
As Latsky (the ghost-like figure from the opening) and Geigel drift into darkness, Meredith Fages, Jerron Herman, and Jillian Hollis take the stage in a vertical line, performing slow, repetitive steps in unison. Their simple walking pattern is layered with complex rhythmic steps: chassés and weight shifts that build in intensity. Their feet pound cadences on the floor as they move like a wave back and forth across the stage.
At one point, Fages breaks away from the group in an intricate, Cunningham-esque solo that is stunning in its specificity and speed. Her movements — angular arm gestures and spongy pliés — are large and repetitive, and contained in a small circle of light as she executes them with fury. When she casually rejoins the group, we appreciate the juxtaposition of humans as both private and social animals.
While Fages, Herman, and Hollis perform similar choreography, they do not make much eye contact, dancing together but separately. Even in moments of physical connection, their uniqueness stands out. Fages excites with her dexterous speed. Hollis adds juicy springiness, Herman casual robustness. A dancer with cerebral palsy who did not start dancing until 2011, Herman showcases the resiliency and strength of muscles and bones configured differently as he dances in complex unison alongside his two non-disabled partners.
Latsky’s movement style is wonderfully weighted and visceral. The end of one action is the beginning of the next, giving the choreography a sensual rebound that is graceful but not pretentious. We see, hear, and feel gravity. Although spatial patterns and movements like large pliés that retract in a sous-sus are repeated with slight variation, the overall feeling is meditative and textured.
Unfinished: a way out starts slowly, builds in speed to a tumultuous crescendo, and then winds down again as Herman, alone on stage, revisits the opening wave-like walking pattern. He advances before ebbing into the darkness.
As the piece moves from reflective to chaotic and back to introspection, we see a journey through life where death is the destination and the path to heaven is meandering and irregular. A journey on which we come together and fall apart, over and over, unfinished.