'ON DISPLAY' Features Performers With and Without Disabilities | Performing Arts | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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'ON DISPLAY' Features Performers With and Without Disabilities


"ON DISPLAY," performed at Federal Plaza in New York City - COURTESY OF CHARLOTTE JONES
  • Courtesy Of Charlotte Jones
  • "ON DISPLAY," performed at Federal Plaza in New York City

Many of us are taught that staring is rude. The belief is that acknowledging interest — and often difference — in other people is inappropriate social behavior. New York choreographer Heidi Latsky, however, has long been using her performances to prod at this social norm, particularly as it relates to people with physical disabilities.

On Sunday, December 3, at Burlington's Fletcher Free Library, community members are invited to stare. In conjunction with the UN International Day of Persons With Disabilities, Burlington choreographer Toby MacNutt will present a local iteration of the Latsky initiative "ON DISPLAY." For one hour, local performers — with and without physical disabilities — will transform themselves into living sculptures by wearing white costumes and moving slowly in improvisational dance.

They'll be in good company: "ON DISPLAY" performances will be taking place all weekend, from Montréal to Buenos Aires.

At a recent rehearsal at South Burlington's Spotlight Vermont studio, MacNutt said that the aim of the work is "owning how you are seen and challenging the idea that you're not supposed to stare."

According to the Heidi Latsky Dance website, the performance is a "commentary on the body as spectacle and society's obsession with body image. It turns a cast of diverse and extreme bodies into a sculpture court where the performers are the sculptures."

MacNutt, who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, first encountered Latsky at a workshop offered at Burlington's FlynnSpace. They went on to tour with the company's "GIMP" project from 2009 to '11. MacNutt lives with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective-tissue disorder that has meant a progression from living with an invisible disability to using crutches, then a wheelchair. MacNutt is currently training a much-loved service dog.

"Disabled doesn't have to mean broken," says MacNutt in the 2010 GIMP documentary. "It's just different."

As a choreographer, they explained that each "ON DISPLAY" performance is organized around a movement score — a set of ideas, rules and prompts that guide the action. Sunday's performance is focused on a theme of "morphing and stillness."

"I'll do better if I say, 'think about floating,' instead of saying, 'lift yo