Disability arts ensemble Kinetic Light performs at Sloan Performing Arts Center : News Center



September 12, 2022


Laurel Lawson hovers above the stage, arms and wheels raised, supported by Alice Sheppard who accompanies her from below. Alice is on her back, lifting Laurel up, closing her eyes and opening her arms in a hug. They are surrounded by small wooden ramps and bathed in soft blue light. Laurel is a white dancer with cropped blue hair and Alice is a multiracial black woman with short, curly hair; their skin, their shimmering costumes and their chairs reflect the light. (Photo University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)


Kinetic Light creates, performs and teaches at the intersections of access, gayness, disability, dance and race.

Internationally acclaimed disability arts ensemble Kinetic Light performed at the University of Rochester’s Sloan Performing Arts Center as part of the band’s Fall 2022 East Coast tour. Using art, technology, design and dance, Kinetic Light creates, performs and teaches at the intersections of access, homosexuality, disability, dance and race.

Lauren Lawson and Alice Sheppard from the set presented Under the impulse, a duo that “celebrates the joys of continuous movement, the allure of speed, the beautiful futility of resisting gravity,” according to the artists. Lawson and Sheppard, both in wheelchairs, played on a series of ramps designed by artist and design researcher Sara Hendren. The show offered an accessible theatrical experience through accessible seating, sensory kits, a quiet space, ASL interpreters, and audio description through the Audimance app.

“Their performance celebrated the joy of movement and the complexity of relationships in such a beautiful and moving way, and I was so thrilled that so many members of Rochester’s vast disability community joined us,” said Missy Pfohl Smith, director of the Institute for the Performing Arts and Dance and Movement Program.

The company was in residence in Rochester from September 5-9, 2022, engaging students and the community in workshops as well as performances.

Pfohl Smith says, “Their residency taught us how aesthetic, cultural and seamless access is, and our job now is to keep working to create a more equitable audience experience for everyone at every show.

Presented by the Dance and Movement Program, the residency was made possible by an ArtsConnect grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the University’s Schwartz Humanities and Performing Arts Fund for the Advancement and additional support from the University’s Performing Arts Institute.


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Key words: Arts and Sciences, Diversity, Institute for Performing Arts, Missy Pfohl Smith, Performing Arts, Dance and Movement Program, Sloan Performing Arts Center

Category: In Pictures