Visiting Artist | August 25 - September 8, 2017
Performed on an architectural ramp installation with hills, curves and peaks, DESCENT celebrates the pleasure of reckless abandon. Obliterating assumptions of what dance, beauty, and disability can be, this evening-length duet takes audiences on a transformative ride. Andromeda and Venus, reimagined as interracial lovers, claim their desire as wheels fly within inches of the ramp’s edges. Their spines soften to taste the subtle pulls of gravity and arch into the sumptuous light. Led entirely by disabled artists, DESCENT presents an experience known to all: the release of leaning into a descent.
Dancers Alice Sheppard and Laurel Lawson will push the limits of their training as they develop movement to be performed on the ramped stage with an eye toward showing what disability and disabled movement contribute to dance. Lighting and video artist Michael Maag will join the residency focusing on developing the projections derived from the Rodin sculptures that are at the heart of DESCENT's movement vocabulary and philosophy of race, disability and beauty.
At MANCC, Alice will have the entire team come together for the first time to finalize the choreography for the dancers and finish work on the movement and technical design elements. Sheppard plans a work-in-progress showing, plus engagement opportunities for students on campus and for community members. DESCENT will premiere at the Britt Festival in Oregon in fall 2017.
Sheppard has also invited two writers, an artist (emerging choreographer/ dancer) and an established scholar of disability arts and culture, into residence to further an emerging conversation about how to language disability and dance. Since 2015, with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, MANCC has piloted an endeavor to embed writers with selected resident artists to support the thoughtful articulation of their creative process, finished work and oeuvre in the public realm. This early initiative embraces a longer-term goal of creating strong, contextualized materials for the artist and their audiences to help foster a deeper engagement and conversation with challenging ideas made manifest in contemporary work.
Collaborators in Residence: Laurel Lawson [dancer], Michael Maag [lighting and video designer], Joseph Futral [production manager].