“Access artists” like Alice Sheppard, Natalie de Segonzac, and Carolyn Lazard ignite new languages in dance, theater, and visual art
By Wendy Univer for Broad Street Review
July 17, 2023
“The access is the art,” says Alice Sheppard, leaning forward in her custom-built, backless wheelchair, looking simultaneously energized and spent after performing Under Momentum with dance partner Laurel Lawson at Lincoln Center. Her curly, natural hair, normally dyed blonde, has a pink and orange halo. Sheppard is a dancer, choreographer, and founder of Kinetic Light, a disability arts ensemble. She is also one of today’s most eloquent and outspoken champions of a growing movement at the intersection of disability and the arts that (for her and many others) includes gender, queerness, and race.
As Sheppard explains in a March episode of WNYC’s The Takeaway, “My dance is not about overcoming. Disability is at the heart of the creative force—the line, the aesthetic, the movement. The chair is the source … It’s not adapted from mainstream dance vocabularies. It’s not a sort of deficit translation.”