Li Chiao-Ping Dance, students from the University of Wisconsin Dance Department and other Madison community members performed in ON DISPLAY GLOBAL/Madison for both an in-person audience at the Madison Children’s Museum and thousands of international viewers via Zoom Dec. 3.
ON DISPLAY GLOBAL is a worldwide event that honors the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It was initiated in 2015 by the New York-based, female-run organization Heidi Latsky Dance. Typically performed in-person at dozens of locations around the globe, this year marked the organization’s second 24-hour Zoom performance event that brought together representatives from over 30 countries.
Li Chiao-Ping Dance, or LCPD, performed a 30-minute segment for ON DISPLAY GLOBAL. The performance was LCPD’s third in its 7DaysDancing series for their 2021-22 season. 7DaysDancing, directed and choreographed by UW dance professor Li Chiao-Ping, is a seven-part series of free, artistic dance productions hosted in non-traditional performance spaces across Dane County.
Audience members witnessed participants who were disabled and non-disabled from all over the world holding “sculptural” poses. The purpose of the annual event is to expand the collective perception of what inclusion looks like.
“I was in touch with Heidi when she started this and she and I have spoken many times about our commitment to dance for everybody, so it was natural for me and my company to be involved over the years,” Li said. “All are welcome to participate. It’s really a simple set of instructions to follow that allows each participant a lot of creative freedom.”
Performers donned white clothing and held various individual poses, specifically concentrating on their own internal focus throughout the segment. Audience members were encouraged to slow down and become engrossed in the understated movement in order to achieve a greater understanding of the exhibition.
“[By] creating a human sculpture garden out of diverse bodies dressed all in white with poses and movements that invite the gaze of the audience … ON DISPLAY GLOBAL subverts the idea of ‘Do not stare’ if you see someone who looks different from you,” said LCPD general manager and educational outreach director Mariel Schneider.
“The [audience’s] gaze is transfixed from something we ought not to do into something that is invited, celebrated and empowered,” Schneider said.
After the health ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many artists to halt public performances, remote and in-person hybrid events like ON DISPLAY GLOBAL/Madison are invigorating for both audiences and performers alike.
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“I appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with the community because LCPD has such a strong following in Dane County,” Schneider said. “It had been a year since we could dance for the public in-person, so [the performance] was a very exciting reunion in that way.”
LCPD and the UW Dance Department participated in ON DISPLAY GLOBAL in 2020 when the event was held entirely on Zoom and Latsky, the event’s founder, was a guest artist for the department. This was the first year the department partnered with the Madison Children’s Museum to hold the event.
“It was very exciting to bring [the performance] to a new audience and a new space,” Li said. “It was a wonderful way to shine light on the Madison community by being a part of this global celebration.”
Given the performance this year was at the Madison Children’s Museum, many families and children were able to witness the event, resulting in a much younger viewership. This allowed a diverse group of Madison community members to experience ON DISPLAY GLOBAL and connect with LCPD.
“The Children’s Museum was extremely gracious in allowing us to use the space,” Schneider said. “They were very accommodating and coordinating the location was very simple.”
Although there was an issue navigating the cost of admission to the museum, Schneider explained in an email that museum staff were especially helpful in finding a viable way to work around the fees to ensure the public could attend at little to no cost.
ON DISPLAY GLOBAL/Madison aimed to highlight the importance of recognizing and appreciating differences in the Madison and global community. At every step of the process, from venue selection to artistic production, dancers and event coordinators worked hard to generate an inclusive, poignant performance.
“As someone with dance training, I am so inspired by the authenticity, subtleties and range that our local performers bring to their participation,” Schneider said. “Being in the work really takes you on a journey and it is nice to come out of it in community with one another.”