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Disability arts ensemble Kinetic Light performs at the Sloan Performing Arts Center

September 12, 2022
Laurel Lawson hovers above the stage, arms and wheels lifted, supported by Alice Sheppard who partners her from below. Alice is on her back, lifting Laurel, locking eyes and opening her arms in embrace. They are surrounded by small wood ramps and bathed in cool blue light. Laurel is a white dancer with cropped blue hair and Alice is a multiracial Black woman with short curly hair; their skin, shimmery costumes and chairs reflect the light.Laurel Lawson hovers above the stage, arms and wheels lifted, supported by Alice Sheppard who partners her from below. Alice is on her back, lifting Laurel, locking eyes and opening her arms in embrace. They are surrounded by small wood ramps and bathed in cool blue light. Laurel is a white dancer with cropped blue hair and Alice is a multiracial Black woman with short curly hair; their skin, shimmery costumes and chairs reflect the light. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Kinetic Light creates, performs, and teaches at the intersections of access, queerness, disability, dance, and race.

The internationally recognized disability arts ensemble Kinetic Light performed at the University of Rochester’s Sloan Performing Arts Center as part of the group’s fall 2022 East Coast tour. Using art, technology, design, and dance, Kinetic Light creates, performs, and teaches at the intersections of access, queerness, disability, dance, and race.

The ensemble’s Laurel Lawson and Alice Sheppard presented Under Momentum, a duet that “celebrates the joys of continuous motion, the allure of speed, the beautiful futility of resisting gravity,” according to the artists. Lawson and Sheppard—both wheelchair users—performed on a series of ramps designed by artist and design researcher Sara Hendren. The show offered an accessible theater experience through accessible seating, sensory kits, quiet space, ASL interpreters, and audio description through the Audimance app.

“Their performance celebrated the joy of motion and the complexity of relationships in such a beautiful and moving way, and I was really thrilled that many members of the wide Rochester disability community joined us,” says Missy Pfohl Smith, director of the Institute for the Performing Arts and the Program of Dance and Movement.

The company was in residence at Rochester from September 5–9, 2022, engaging students and the community in workshops as well as performance.

Says Pfohl Smith: “Their residency taught us how access is aesthetic, cultural, and ongoing, and our work now is to continue to work towards creating a more equitable audience experience for everyone at every show.”

Presented by the Program of Dance and Movement, the residency was made possible through an ArtsConnect grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, University Advancement’s Schwartz Fund for the Humanities and Performing Arts, and additional support from the University’s Institute for the Performing Arts.


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Category: In Photos