This fall, as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s 50th-anniversary programs, the museum will present Heidi Latsky Dance, a New York City-based dance company dedicated to redefining beauty and virtuosity through provocative and innovative performance and discourse. The company will present the Washington, D.C. premiere of “ON DISPLAY,” a public art experience exploring the body as spectacle and society’s obsession with body image. A cast of 20 dancers—ranging in age, race, size, disability and gender—will create an interactive space where the viewer and the viewed can experience the beauty of difference. “ON DISPLAY” will take place in the Portrait Gallery’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, Sunday, Sept. 23, 3–5:00 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public.
“The National Portrait Gallery recognizes the power of portraiture in the exploration of identity,” said Kim Sajet, director of the museum. “Since 2006, Heidi Latsky Dance has broken down barriers within and outside the dance world by giving individuals with disabilities a platform. We are delighted to present “ON DISPLAY,” which addresses themes related to the body as spectacle and how people treat each other based on physical appearance. We hope visitors will walk away from both this performance and their ongoing visits to the Portrait Gallery, each time leaving with a greater sense of inclusivity and acceptance of others.”
“ON DISPLAY” will transform the museum’s Kogod Courtyard into a sculpture court of diverse and extreme bodies in a performance that combines elements of both an art exhibition and a fashion show. Dancers will perform to a score of robotic, objective texts that describe 30 random people; each description cueing a different script of choreography and allowing randomness and chance to dictate the overall experience. “ON DISPLAY” comes to the National Portrait Gallery following international performances in Athens, Greece; Monteroni, Italy; Palencia, Spain; Jakarta, Indonesia and Toronto, Canada; and at venues across the U.S., including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York; the American Dance Festival, Durham, North Carolina; High Line Park, New York; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and Lincoln Center, New York. This growing portfolio of performances, which explore and demonstrate inclusion through art, has engrossed audiences around the world with its simultaneous intimacy and force.
“The flurry of intermittent solos within ‘ON DISPLAY’ stems from my choreographic practice of ‘movement portraits’—solos that expose the distinction, fierceness and vulnerability of each performer,” said Heidi Latsky, artistic director, choreographer and performer. “Our focus on the person is uniquely enhanced by the backdrop and mission of the National Portrait Gallery. The contemplative nature of the work also challenges audiences as they walk through it, choosing how close or how far they witness individual sculptures or the sculpture court in its entirety. That challenge has prompted positive shifts in perceptions of beauty across several populations, and we look forward to sharing it with the DC community. Because ‘ON DISPLAY’ was initially conceived to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is so meaningful to present it for the 50th anniversary of the Portrait Gallery, another landmark event that advances the culture of our country.”
The Portrait Gallery’s presentation of “ON DISPLAY” follows the museum’s ongoing commitment to portraiture as performance, which has led to its IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture series and its decision to host a choreographer-in-residence through 2022, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company.
National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists, whose lives tell the American story.
The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F Streets NW, Washington, DC. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at npg.si.edu, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and the museum’s blog.
Heidi Latsky Dance
The mission of Heidi Latsky Dance (HLD) is to redefine beauty and virtuosity through performance and discourse, employing performers with unique attributes to bring rigorous, passionate and provocative contemporary dance to diverse audiences. Since 2006 this has included the explicit integration of disabled people as artists and administrators in the company, expanding the breadth of diversity in the arts.
HLD is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization under Latsky Dance Inc. Connect with HLD at heidilatskydance.org to sign up for its newsletter and follow the company on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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