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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Haggerty part of worldwide showcase

Photo by Marquette Wire Stock Photo
A dancer performs at the Haggerty for ON DISPLAY GLOBAL in 2016. The Haggerty will be Milwaukee’s location for a third straight year.

Milwaukee will help celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities through dance at the Haggerty Museum of Art on Marquette’s campus this Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m. 

Milwaukee is one of more than 40 cities participating at Heidi Latsky Dance’s ON DISPLAY GLOBAL, a dance movement aiming to raise awareness for people with disabilities.  Catey Ott Dance Collective and Milwaukee area artists will perform Latksy’s dance at the Haggerty for a third year.

Heidi Latsky, founder of Heidi Latsky Dance, said ON DISPLAY GLOBAL began with her show GIMP in 2007, which featured four performers with disabilities who danced alongside four dancers without disabilities. Latsky recalled that after the show, the museum curator told her he was ashamed that he saw beauty in sculptures with missing limbs, but had a hard time seeing the same beauty in humans.

In reaction to the curator’s words, Latsky said she wanted to create a show where dancers would stand next to sculptures with missing limbs to highlight the juxtaposition of different ideas of beauty. However, Latsky’s idea never came to fruition.

Instead, Latsky said Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, came to her in 2015, asking her to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, marking the beginning of ON DISPLAY GLOBAL. 

The first performance took place in Times Square in New York City with only six performers. Now there have been over 200 performances in more than 14 countries and 40 cities. Latsky said her goal is to have 100 cities participating by 2020. 

Each city performs ON DISPLAY GLOBAL before Dec. 3, International Day of Persons with Disabilities. A video of the cities’ performances is shown in the General Assembly Lobby of the United Nations on Dec. 3. 

“It is an act of social justice and a way to raise awareness,” Latsky said. 

“From early on we are taught not to stare at those with disabilities,” said Catey Ott Thompson, founder of Catey Ott Dance Collective and adjunct instructor at Marquette. “This is permission to really look.”

Ott Thompson, who previously danced for Latsky, said Latsky approached her with the idea of being an ambassador for ON DISPLAY GLOBAL. 

Ott Thompson said performers will be dressed in all white with no makeup or jewelry in order to capture a state of true vulnerability, and this costume will be consistent across all performances.

Performers stand still with their eyes open, looking at the audience who will walk through the living sculptures. Then, performers close their eyes to internalize their movements as they begin to perform. The cast includes both those with and without disabilities. 

“The mission (of ON DISPLAY GLOBAL) is to deal with levels of self-consciousness,” Ott Thompson said. “Everyone has a degree of self-consciousness.”

She said the bare costumes and act of standing still for all to see allows performers to find comfort in their vulnerability.

While the event is a dance performance, not all performers are trained dancers. Performers of all backgrounds are welcomed in order to represent people of all types, Latsky said. 

“The goal is to represent (those with disabilities) amongst all other communities as confident and beautiful,” Latsky said.

She said allowing performers of all backgrounds, ages, races and genders helps achieve representation. As long as performers are able to stand still, understand the intent of ON DISPLAY GLOBAL and train, Latsky said she welcomes them. 

One such dancer is Kathleen Wolff, a 2018 Marquette College of Education alumna. Wolff graduated with a dance minor and took classes with Ott Thompson. This will be Wolff’s second year performing in ON DISPLAY GLOBAL. Having one year under her belt allows her more comfort to move freely, Wolff said. 

“The global aspect is so special because you can see that people can come together to move and speak to this idea of reverse self-conscious,” Wolff said. “It’s that mutual understanding.” 

Wolff said she feels the performance is relatable because everyone feels self-conscious at times. She added that the dance allows people to acknowledge these self-conscious thoughts, but also allows them to step away from self-consciousness so they are not overwhelmed. 

This will be the Haggerty’s third year as Milwaukee’s ON DISPLAY GLOBAL venue. 

“The Haggerty was the first place that came to mind (to host the performance),” Ott Thompson said. “It’s one of my Marquette homes.”

“(ON DISPLAY GLOBAL) allows people to take the opportunity to walk through in a safe enough environment to really look,” Latsky said. “To view and be viewed and see what that really means.”

Latsky said she invites the audience to change its perception of beauty and redefine it. 

The event is free and open to the public.

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