Direction and Choreography by Heidi Latsky, Marc Brew and Joe Goode
Produced by Dance NYC
Off Broadway, Dance
November 15, 2015
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place
by Jane Sato on 11.29.15
Axis Dance Company in DIVIDE. Photo by Darial Sneed.
BOTTOM LINE: This innovative evening of concert dance and art installation showcased how these artists took dance, in its purest form, to a new level where diversity is cherished and represented.
This curated evening of dance was created in honor of the Veterans Day, the 25th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act, Dance/NYC, and the work of Victor Calise (the Commissioner at the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities). This evening did its job of pushing our perspectives and turning our gazes away from physical limitations to creative expectations, with a lot of passion at its helm.
On November 15th and 16th, the Skirball Center for the Arts lobby housed an art installation, "On Display," with a film by Janet Wong and clinical modern gowns that covered specific dancers' body parts by Anna Kathleen Little. 28 dancers stood like models while a computer generated voice and soundscape by Stan Harrison and Ximena Borges reduced them to their body parts and physical characteristics. There was an element of curiosity of who the voice might be describing, but as you moved through the exhibit, you realized that was impossible. I appreciated the sparse movement, danced in a rhythmic unison. At points, the whole room shifted as the dancers transitioned from one pose to another. Perhaps, it was to get the viewer accustomed to what their eye was drawn to and to make it feel inclusive of every person there.
The first dance piece of this evening was DIVIDE. AXIS Dance Company commissioned this abstract work by Marc Brew, who was inspired by visual artist Carl Andre’s cracks in the floor. The lighting designer made a light that was like a fault line across the floor that the dancers often traced with their feet and movements. The four dancers, two of them unconventional, performed first facing the sides of the stage, moving their arms like wings up and down. Although the dancers had different capacities for movement, their four physical voices were in counterpoint to each other. Dwayne Scheuneman moved lithely around in his wheelchair and was a creative powerhouse in the evening. He created intimate duets with the conventional dancers, that surprised and elevated the evening.
There was a long set change before Heidi Latsky’s seductive Solo 1. The audience was left in their seats, in limbo. This pause might have served as a better time slot for the art installation, which required attendance an hour before the show. After that, Latsky’s barely light silhouette suggested an inner turmoil that seemed to bubble out of her body with an effervescent quality. her blonde curls felt like the head of a storm that fades back into the darkness. Somewhere, her group piece, ended with a solo by dancer Jerron Herman, in a similar piece that seemed to relate to Latsky's own performance. Herman’s dancing was violent and boundary pushing. The other dancers sliced across the stage, but Herman’s exploration was the taste left in our mouths.
AXIS Dance Company returned to finish the evening in a piece inspired by real veterans and their families' stories. To Go Again, choreographed by Joe Goode, explored these dancers, not just as movers but as actors as they recounted the days in the trenches. Scheuneman, also a wheelchair track athlete, impressively raced across the stage balancing and swerving on his wheels. The stellar duet between the two women, made me forget where I was with its gut wrenching but not overly sentimental tone. Overall, this evening made me realize how many labels dance has put onto itself, and I witnessed this giving hope to disabled and older generations around me. We are much more than the parts of our sums and I was glad to believe in this utopian world of dance, at least for the moment.
(AXIS Dance CompanylHeidi Latsky Dance performed at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place, on Sunday, November 15, 2015. The pre-show installation began at 6. Performance was at 7. Tickets were $32-$49.)
Axis Dance Company: Directed by Judith Smith. Costume design by Keriann Egeland and Jenny Gonsalves. Ligting design by Allen Willner. Music by Caroline Penwarden and Ben Juodvalkis. Choreography by Marc Brew and Joe Goode. Performance by Brendan Barthen, Keon Saghari, Julie Crothers, Dwayne Scheuneman, Nick Brentley, and Sophie Stanley.
Heidi Latsky Dance: Choreographed by Heidi Latsky. Music by Chris Brierly, Xi.me.na Borges, and Stan Harrison. Dramaturgy by Stewart Schulman. Lighting design by Robert Wierzel. Costume design by Carlos Arias, Heidi Latsky and the Company. Performed by Landes Dixon, Meredith Fages, Jerron Herman, Jillian Hollis, Heidi Latsky, Saki Masuda, Robert Simpson, Jubil Khan, and Gregory Youdan, Jr.