The Latsky Method
The Intentional, Listening Body
The Latsky Method: Heidi Latsky, formerly of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and currently the Artistic Director of Heidi Latsky Dance, has designed an innovative new movement system. Over the past fifteen years Ms. Latsky has traveled the world creating and performing work for countless dance festivals and universities, teaching workshops and participating in residencies. In the process, the seeds for her system were sown. In 1998, Heidi was named Head of the Movement Department at the School for Film and Television in New York City. This is the laboratory where the Latsky Method has flourished.
As a dancer, Ms. Latsky is known for her kinetic way of moving and the emotionality she brings to her work. She believes that a strong, flexible and supportive body, in conjunction with an intention to ease the breath, creates an openness and awareness that lead to more risk-taking and unique experiences. The Latsky Method is a comprehensive and interactive practice designed to peel away layers, break down inherent barriers, and build self-confidence by strengthening the support system of the body. It bridges the gap between technique and performance, and it teaches performers to personalize their performance material while they are learning it. To accomplish this, the performer needs to prepare the body in a very specific way.
|Heidi Latsky has a wonderful body which she used to full advantage when expressing ideas and emotions. She has an impeccable sense of timing, which makes things fall into place, often at the last minute providing the audience with a final insight to an idea or thought.
Linda Ramsey, The St. John Telegram
The objective of The Latsky Method is to teach students to listen to their bodies and to organize the body for ease of movement, full diaphragmatic breathing, circulation and depth of expression. This is done by:
- Encouraging ease of breath as you work on stretching and strengthening the body
- Paying close attention to the designated "domes" of the body (areas that need to be open, flexible and guided away from each other in order to bring the torso into length and facilitate full diaphragmatic breathing)
The first part of the practice is a meditative, internal and deep workout that prepares students to move from the inside out. It begins with a short standing section of grounding activities based on yoga postures and an introduction to the vocabulary of the class. Students are then guided through stretches and deep strengthening activities on the floor. After each strengthening exercise, time is allotted for students to explore where their breath is traveling within their bodies and where their tension is stored. This in addition to a series of breathing and vocalizing exercises enable students to alternately control, guide and ultimately observe with ease the breath moving through their bodies. During this process, students are encouraged to constantly stay aware of how they feel. After this warm up the students enter into an intense isolation exercises which mobilize the body from head to toe and are designed specifically to release emotions. At this point, students have gained an increased awareness of breath, posture and presence, their bodies are grounded and they are emotionally connected.
The second part of the class incorporates various choreographed movements/actions chosen to fit the students' specific needs. For actors, this includes the "movement script," a structured improvisation that guides students through a range of motions and allows them to achieve specific emotional states a nd develop emotional, spatial and ensemble awareness. For dancers, Latsky also uses selections from her own repertory or choreography that is brought in by the students to help them with focus, phrasing and intention - always emphasizing presence and awareness - and she coaches them on how to apply the principles of the warm-up to their work. During this phase, Heidi encourages the students to ask questions and make observations, and each student receives individual attention.
The Latsky Method can be taught as a three-hour introductory workshop or as a series of classes held on a regular basis. The classes can either focus primarily on the preparatory exercises or include the practical application of the warm-up as well.
It was a very deep experience.. I didn't really think that it was all going to affect me this deeply, so quickly, and I'm sure this is just the beginning. After the practice, I felt connected in such a different way. A softer approach and an ability to 'just be.' It was overwhelming and calming all at once. Thank you for your gift and I am going to see how I can incorporate all of this into my schedule.
When I first heard about the "mandatory stress management classes" offered by my firm, I thought to myself: how oxymoronic! Here is yet another requirement to allocate time and effort toward something which I wasn't even aware existed, never mind could define.
How wrong I was! My apprehensions were dispelled during the first session, where, to my great surprise, there was almost universal participation in the opening discussion by the stockbrokers and support staff who always look so frazzled and withdrawn! The topic, as you will remember, was: what causes stress in your life, and what do you do/look like, etc., when stress occurs?
From that point forward, through the ensuing philosophy-of-life exchanges, the breathing exercises, the stretching and body pressure point exercises all incorporating a focus on self-awareness and self-improvement which your sessions were known for, I thoroughly enjoyed every class session. In my particular case, and I know all the participants had their own personal perspectives and purposes, I benefited most noticeably and immediately from the "sipping breath" and "abdominal breathing" exercises. Giving myself a "permission slip" to retain my own space and my own perspective, even in the pressure-cooker environment which is Wall Street's predominant milieu at present, afforded me invaluable perspective into my own life as I have been living it. I have also used these techniques in my personal family life with great personal satisfaction (which is how I now define "success" -- internally, not externally).
Thank you for everything I learned from you. Your openness and honesty were part of what made the presentations work for me, and the techniques and perspectives which you taught would be invaluable to anyone mature enough to be concerned about his or her own daily perspective in today's unpredictable and stressful world. Your course was absolutely great!
Andrew M. Heath, III