I believe we need work made by disabled artists for the disability community writ large. We need art that explicitly acknowledges the work of disabled artists of colour not just in an inclusory way but in a manner that challenges the uniformity of disability narratives we have thus far promoted to the non-disabled world. My current choreographic and performance preferences lean towards investigations of native disabled movement–that is, movement arising directly from impairment. I mix this with what I know of classical dance vocabulary and the many traditions of black dance; I allow the influence of disability studies and disability arts and culture to register where I can and think consistently about the ways race figures in the reading of my body and the shaping of my work.
I believe that dance should engage the critical questions that define us and that it should enable us to function as sensitive, committed citizens off the stage. My journey towards making my own work has gathered pace over the course of my ten years in the field. I am slowly finding my focus by making work both for disabled artists and for dancers in integrated settings.
I begin with my body, as it is with my wheelchair, as it is without my wheelchair, as it is with crutches, and even with crutches and chair together. My crutches and chair are not tools that compensate for my impairment. Nor are they simply devices that I use for traveling across the studio. I understand all these starting points as embodiments that have different movement possibilities. The lope of a crutch feels to me as elegant as that of a gazelle; the push of a chair creates a glide akin to skating; a roll on the floor creates grounded-ness and a different understanding of the spine. I want to draw out the expressive capacity of disabled bodies and minds by acknowledging and actively drawing on the movement of impairment. I integrate mainstream dance vocabularies into the unique movement of each dancer. As my work develops, I seek roots for each piece in what I know of disability art, culture, and history.
Intertwined in my exploration of how movement can be generated is my awareness of societal understandings of race, gender, and disability. The intersections of these three form a crucible of interpretative potential. I look into the art and aesthetics that shape our understandings of human difference and make work that I hope will be part of a new, more nuanced conversation.
And of course, my most ambitious choreography project to date – DESCENT by Kinetic Light