Dance Dance Evolution: Kinetic Light

Set against an intensely colored sunset, Alice Sheppard as Andromeda slides in a spider position on her stomach down the shiny ramp. The shadow of her wheelchair is visible; her curly hair glows. Photo by MANCC / Chris Cameron. 

Working in the disciplines of art, design, architecture, and social justice, Kinetic Light creates, performs, and teaches at the intersections of disability, dance, and race.

Producer Lisa Niedermeyer shares about the journey of the company and bringing its provocative hit show DESCENT to the stage, from the west coast premiere at the Britt Music & Arts Festival in Oregon, to the east coast premiere at New York Live Arts in New York City.

How has dance been part of your life?
Dance was my emotional outlet growing up, it was my path to scholarships that paid for a solid liberal arts education in my university years, it was my ticket to travel and experiencing the world as a touring professional, and in many ways it was my identity before pivoting to a career in technology and business where dance became a colorful footnote in an otherwise long and diverse CV. Now, dance is back in my life presenting a whole new world of aesthetic possibility and innovation.

What is unique about this show?
Equity is assumed from the beginning and throughout versus a case being made for equity within the narrative of the show. This goes for the world created on stage that the characters inhabit as well as equity extending into the lobby and marketing experiences for our fans.

What speaks to you about the vision for this work? 
I feel I am making both dance history and the future of dance at the same time. We are at the cutting edge.

What do you hope the audience gets out of this show?
I hope that you have a physical and emotional experience that is ultimately transformative. That there is a clear before and after in your life, even if it isn’t evident right away.

What’s next for Kinetic Light?
Opportunities and invitations are coming at us hard and fast following the sold-out premiere run in New York City. What is next is for us to ensure the tail isn’t wagging the dog with all this increased visibility, that we continue to stay true to the FUBU (for us by us) principle of who we are making art experiences for. The assumption is we have general dance audiences and are proactively including disabled individuals, when in fact we are centering the entire audience experience around disability culture and community and inviting others new to that culture and community to share a world class art experience.

How do you define success? 
It’s that sweet sweet moment when you go back in time to visit your younger self and tell her what you did with your life and she says ‘fuck yes!’ and high fives you so hard.

Photo by BRITT / Jay Newman. Laura Lawson as Venus is flying in the air with arms spread wide, wheels spinning, and supported by Alice Sheppard as Andromeda who is lifting from the ground below. They are making eye contact and smiling. A starry sky fills the background and moonlight glints off their rims. 

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