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. The first three projects are upcoming in 2016. I will add video as we get underway. In the meantime, please enjoy the other samples.
Kinetic Light- Descent From Beauty

This collaboration with lighting designer and video artist Michael Maag and investigates uses the unique perspectives of three disabled artists. Using light and video projection, Maag and Sheppard explore some of the statues of Auguste Rodin. Dancer Laurel Lawson joins Sheppard in a journey into Rodin’s aesthetic of incompleteness, this project begins with the sculptor’s ideas about art, race, and beauty and traverses the spaces of an unusual custom built set. The set will be designed by Sara Hendren, Yevgeniya Zastavker and the students at Olin College of Engineering.

CRIPSiE: Succumb (working title)

CRIPSiE, The Collaborative Radically Integrated Performers Society in Edmonton, is committed to fostering high quality, creative, anti-oppressive and inclusive art practices and performances. CRIPSiE builds upon ten years of vibrant integrated dance experience in Edmonton. This commission investigates the relationship between individuals and a crowd, exploring how and when we yield, what it means to be overcome. How do we say yes? What does it mean to care for each other? How as disabled people can we do we use and accept care from each other? How do we care for ourselves?

MOMENTA Dance Company: Re-Membering A World To Come

How do we remember the disabled people who died as part of the Nazi regime’s Aktion T4 program, those who were involuntarily subjected to medical experimentation, and those who survived? How do we connect state political violence with the personal horror experienced by survivors? And what can these pasts tell us about our future? This commission explores remembering/re-membering the future by considering the personal story of a now-disabled survivor and the violence against disabled people by the German state. It features the music and live presence of composer and musician James Falzone.

MOMENTA Dance Company: I belong to you

I belong to you investigates connection, community, interdependence, and rejection. It asks whether we can belong to each other and, even, to ourselves. What motivates us to join with others and when do we choose to turn away?

SOLO: Trusting If/Believing When

Featuring an unusual use of a wheelchair, this piece investigates the moment when trust turns to belief. When hoping turns to knowing. The moment when time hangs in the balance, and we can only believe in each other.

SOLO: So, I will wait…

So, I will wait explores the collapse of time and the sensation of being in-between. How do we know when the waiting has ended? How should we acknowledge the loss of the past? When the pressures of time lift, the revelations of stillness seep slowly into our beings.

SOLO: Doors

When we realize that we have been left behind in this world, how do we inhabit our bodies? The unusual embodiment of a wheelchair and crutches creates a new physical being. Unfamiliar. Metal. Powerful. Flesh. Beautiful. Rubber. How can we grasp feelings of alienation, reconciliation, and wholeness? How do we reach across time and extend in our present?