I was really moved by the video and text by Alice Sheppard that we watched and read for class today.
I don’t think of myself as a dancer, but I was a part of an acrobatics company for most of my life that challenged the way that I thought about dance. It was a queer, feminist acrobatics troupe that strove to build community through movement. A lot of their work challenged how I would traditionally define dance. One of the guiding principles of the acrobatics troupe was centered on conveying trust through touch. We focused on touch a lot – what it means to touch someone, how to touch someone with respect and consent, and what different kinds of touch conveys to an audience. I was thinking of this while watching Seppard’s work. Sheppard also focuses and values touch in her work and while there are no other people in the dance piece (in the video), I think you can sense this difference in touch with how she touches herself and treats her own body. It’s important to note, I think, that her touch is not always gentle. I think this is intentional, disabled bodies are often treated fragile, assumed to be delicate and easy to break, but the way that Sheppard catapults her body onto the floor certainly does not portray fragility. I really appreciate the lens of touch that my acro company taught me, and I am interested to continue to apply this in thinking about disabled art.