'GIMP' offers look at wide spectrum of people
A "gimp" can be a lame person. But it can also be a ribbon-like fabric or a fighting spirit. It can also mean an uneven gait or the ability to turn, vacillate and tremble ecstatically. All of that was contained in "GIMP," a Heidi Latsky Dance production that was presented by FISA in partnership with the Pittsburgh Dance Council and the August Wilson Center, where it was performed Saturday night.
As it turned out "GIMP" was the perfect birthday gift for FISA to give itself, summing up all that the organization has done for 100 years in giving dignity, respect and support to women, children and the disabled.
Of course, we have seen Ms. Latsky before as a winning force in Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and as a respected solo/duet choreographer. She was back, first fashioning a quiet prologue with more than 10 Pittsburgh community members, then performing with her own nine-member company, all a blend of able-bodied and disabled dancers.
And therein lay the rub. Dance relies much on the beauty and perfection of the human body, but Ms. Latsky was able to find those qualities in the unusual. People stare, often uncomfortably, at the disabled on a daily basis. But "GIMP" absolutely offered the opportunity for the audience to stare ... and the performers sometimes stared right back.
That's not to say that it wasn't uncomfortable for audience members. Ms. Latsky's vision was nothing if not frank. She immediately broke the barriers with an aerial duet for Danilo Lambo and Jennifer Strickland, an athlete who was born without legs. But their connection, facilitated by two long red strips of cloth, pegged them as equals. And when they kissed after Ms. Strickland's slow coiling ascent, it seemed to be the perfect exclamation point.
The choreography highlighted sex, violence and lyrical allure, things that normally find their way into the dance. To her credit, Ms. Latsky didn't allow them to be gratuitous, couching it all in a poetic kind of discipline, where all the movements could be taken on their own terms.
I remember that the Jones/Zane company changed the way I looked at dance because the singular diversity of the dancers included the 200-pound plus Lawrence Goldhuber. The petite Ms. Latsky, who successfully performed with him frequently, has just taken that embracing concept one step further.
First Published October 17, 2011 12:00 am