Heidi Latsky Dance at the American Dance Festival

Heidi Latsky Dance opened their “Triptych” Sunday with “Somewhere,” dressed in all white, under hanging lights that lit the stage like stars, some dangling lower and some shining brighter, standing on a surface of wide black and white stripes. They started moving without music, holding stillness then springing into motion simultaneously. Atonal music created by Xi.me.na Borges began and the activity on stage accelerated.

The second panel of the “Triptych” was the beautiful film “Soliloquoy.” An out of focus hand fills the screen, then necks, shoulders, torsos, bodies move alone or entertwined with others in a setting that seems to be nowhere. We only see parts of bodies until the powerful end when each unique individual stands center screen.

In the third panel the dancers returned, this time dressed in all black on the black and white striped floor in “Solo Countersolo.” The original music by Chris Brierly was more melodic than the mostly atonal music for “Somewhere.”

In the two live pieces, choreographer Heidi Latsky created exquisite scenes from the contrasting colors and interesting lighting to the balance of dancers on the stage. What I loved most about the dancers was their beautiful port de bras. Their fast flinging control while using their fully range of motion was hypnotic.

“Solilioquoy,” with film and sound editing by Marilys Ernst and photography by Zac Halberd, is a beautiful and moving work of film. From the first blurred hand to the final full body, the film grows through a climax and resolution. Extreme closeups allow a hand or a neck to completely fill the area of the stage, making the bodies that move them seem larger than life. You want to know more about these people who seem isolated or suspended in time.  Unique and anonymous, the individuals are easily relatable, so that by the end of the film there’s a warm and intimate acceptance of humanness.

I loved the pictures created by movement in all three sections, and through most of the program I felt only enthusiasm, awe or affection for the art in front of me. But somewhere in the middle of “Solo Countersolo,” which was last on opening night (they may change the order), I felt a panic that the dance would never end. The music, which was monotonous but not unpleasant, would quiet to an end but then start again. It occurred to me that, unlike the film, this piece had no path, climax, or destination. The effect was that the dance seemed eternal, so I couldn’t help but identify the exit locations and plan a discreet escape. It wasn’t even a long program at just over an hour, and the dance, while monotonous like the music, was not boring. Despite the panic, it is cool to watch something that eternal. I could see the dancers as tiny humans enclosed in a glass case at a gallery, always in motion. You stop to watch them as you pass, and you walk away you can see that they are still dancing.
Watch this excerpt of Heidi Latsky Dance performing “Solo Countersolo.” Check out the fast, sharp and long port de bras!

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