Heidi Latsky Dance/The Gimp Project Upstate

Heidi Latsky - The Gimp ProjectPhoto by Seth Wenig
Heidi Latsky – The Gimp Project
Photo by Seth Wenig

Year: 2011-2012
DanceForce Member: Ivan Sygoda
Artist: Heidi Latsky
Community Partners: SUNY at Buffalo Office of Accessibility Resources; University of Rochester
Audience: 135
County: Monroe

Ivan Sygoda’s DanceForce project with Heidi Latsky stems from two complementary impulses: Sygoda’s familiarity with and high regard for Latsky’s work in what is often called “mixed-ability” dance, and pre-existing interest in her work on the part of dance and accessibility faculty at the Universities of Rochester, Buffalo and, potentially, Syracuse. The overarching strategy was to use DanceForce funds to plant seeds of interest on these campuses, to provide interactions with individuals and programs already committed to the artistic validity of this work that could then help forge paths to the relevant presenting programs at each venue. The idea was to build interest from within each community to support what would doubtless be seen as a difficult marketing challenge by the presenters of record, dance being perceived as difficult to begin with.

Conversations involving Heidi Latsky as Artistic Director of Heidi Latsky Dance and of its Gimp Project and Dance Force member Ivan Sygoda took place during the fall and winter of 2011-12 with the individuals named below, conversations which resulted in the activities listed:

University of Rochester/Program of Dance and Movement. Our primary contact is Missy Pfohl Smith, Director of the program and also Artistic Director of Biodance, a local troupe. The program has its own history of dance presenting, including an annual “inspireDance” festival, and a robust series of guest workshops called Moving Minds/Thinking Bodies. What was planned and implemented was a short residency involving Heidi Latsky and four members of her Gimp company. Heidi gave a dance workshop attended by some 30 people on Thursday, February 16 at 5:00pm and an informal performance on Friday, February 17 at 5:00pm in Spurrier Dance Studio, which was attended by approx. 100 ticket-buying members of the campus community. The vents were successful, and Missy Pfohl Smith is eager to leverage this success into a more ambitious presence in the Spring of 2013.

University of Buffalo/Office of Accessibility. Our primary contacts are Susan Mann Dolce, Assistant Director for Consultation and Research in that office, and Jon Lehrer, Artistic Director of the resident LehrerDance company. 2010-2011 DanceForce funds supported an exploratory residency in the spring of 2011 not unlike what Rochester hosted in the spring of 2012. Our champions in Buffalo were not yet successful in convincing the university’s presenting program to consider booking Heidi Latsky Dance, and so it was decided to hold a kind of place-holding planning dinner to gather the potential stakeholders around the table. Our host was Dr. Mann Dolce. One of the other guests was Matthew Sanford, a yoga practitioner with expertise in disability issues, and with whom Heidi is eager to collaborate.

A contact in the Syracuse University community who had presented himself as very interested in having Heidi Latsky visit his campus ended up not being in a position on campus to further that goal. Momentum there is therefore stalled, but we have not abandoned the goal.