Alice Sheppard is a big fan of asking, “what if?” The question, in part, stems from a civic determination to entertain alternatives: to the ways we understand dance, navigate space, and perhaps most importantly, to the ways we comprehend the disabled body. But more often than not, her line of inquiry tends to lead to a project.
With over a decade of experience in integrated dance—along with a latent dive into choreography in 2012—Sheppard has, over the years, formed a compelling space at the nexus of dance and technology. In this time, Sheppard co-founded the company Kinetic Light with fellow performer Laurel Lawson and video artist Michael Maag, amassed a growing online community through threads like #askwheelchairdancer and #rampfail, and directed the construction of a custom-built ramp stage with the support of engineers at Olin College.
The artist keeps busy. During the latter-half of this month alone, Sheppard is slated to host a series of public rehearsals at Gibney Dance in midtown Manhattan, where she and her stage are taking up residence. On Friday, at the invitation of Sasha Wortzel, Sheppard will lead a Whitney Museum Study Session on Melvin Edwards’s sculpture, Pyramid Up and Down Pyramid (1969/1970), which is currently on view in “An Incomplete History of Protest."
“I encountered her work this past summer when she participated at an event at The 8th Floor,” Wortzel told NEW INC during a phone conversation. “It was a roundtable discussion about disability and contemporary art, and thinking beyond how institutions make themselves more accessible, but thinking about accessibility in terms of methodology as artists, curators, and academics. One thing that resonated with me was when she was talking about ramps and how, so often when ramps are built into spaces, they’re very ugly, utilitarian, and practical. They don’t give a sense of pleasure or joy.”
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