OSWEGO - Kinetic Light, an internationally known disability arts ensemble, will bring their talents to SUNY Oswego for a series of lectures and workshops with a culminating performance at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16.
Kinetic Light founder Alice Sheppard kicked off the residency with a workshop titled “Inside Disability: for Artists and Cultural Workers” from 11:15 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, in Tyler Hall’s black box theatre (Room 46).
“I had been training and dancing for years, performing and teaching with disability arts companies,” Sheppard said. “I was longing to create something of my own, something new: art that was created by disabled artists for disabled audiences. Art that centers disability as a creative force.”
Sheppard’s workshop will take audiences through the history of disability and culture and will ask audiences to develop an intersectional disability lens.
“A large part of the disability and dance worlds still see dance as therapeutic for the body and/or as a form of self-expression that enables dancers to love their bodies despite their disabilities -- this is not how Kinetic Light sees it,” Sheppard said. “Our work is possible only because of our understanding of disability as being many different things –- lived experience, yes, but also politic, culture, history, aesthetic and identity. Being on stage is magical; I feel most alive when I am performing. That feeling is not about my disability or me personally, though.”
Laurel Lawson, Kinetic Light’s artist-engineer, will present a workshop titled “Arts & Technology” from 9:15-11:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, also in the Tyler Hall black box theatre.
“Wheelchairs are traditionally designed to be strong and stable with four (or three, or five) wheels on the ground,” Lawson said. “The kind of dance I want to create and perform demands something very different, which permits the fullest range of movement and expression from groundwork to the air. These are designed to be immensely tough, light and responsive to our slightest movements, purposefully unstable. The rigorous physicality and partnering in our work begins with the strength and technique required for us to work in this embodiment.”
The workshop hosted by Lawson will not only teach audiences about light and design, but also how to further design accessibility and equity.
“And not least: the chairs themselves are beautiful,” Lawson said. “They are artworks which are meant to be embodied in motion. The space these chairs occupy as both sculpture and design, as functional aesthetic artifacts, is of necessity of the in-between and reflects the fundamental multiplicity of disabled embodiment. As what might be termed pure sculpture, these are beautiful aesthetic objects. Equally: these are exquisitely utilitarian, superbly engineered for precise functions and to become particular bodies.”
Finishing up Kinetic Light’s visit to SUNY Oswego will be their performance titled “Under Momentum” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.
“Under Momentum” celebrates the joys of being continuously in motion, the allure of speed and the beautiful futility of resisting gravity. Performed on and around a series of curvaceous wedged ramps, this showcase suite of solos and duets ranges through graceful explorations of balance, stillness and falls as Kinetic Light’s disabled dancers release into the forces of acceleration, gravity and torque.
“Kinetic Light’s work is open to anyone and everyone, and it is created specifically for disabled audiences,” Sheppard said. “We do not create work ‘in spite of’ or ‘overcoming’ disability; the things that make our art so potent happen because of disability and not despite it.”
Due to the nature of this event, masks will be required, regardless of vaccination status.
This event will have wheelchair-accessible seating, audio descriptions, American Sign Language interpreters, haptics, sensory kits and a quiet room will be available during the entire performance.
Tickets are free for SUNY Oswego students, $5 for students kindergarten through college, $15 for faculty, staff and SUNY Oswego alumni, and $20 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased via the SUNY Oswego Box Office at tickets.oswego.edu.
Sponsored by the Artswego Performing Arts Series, this engagement of Kinetic Light is made possible through the ArtsCONNECT program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
For more information about Kinetic Light’s events or other Artswego activities, visit oswego.edu/arts.
“Access is integral in everything we do,” Lawson said. “Access is relationship, culture, ethic: access is aesthetic and creatively generative. It is not a service, supplemental or optional. We understand that many and multiple ways of experiencing art are equally valid and deserve equitable attention by the artist. Access is art. In our world, access is central to a holistic approach to equitable hospitality and experience.”