Making sense of each other

January 20-21
Gibney Dance, New York

How do we look at each other? How do we allow ourselves to be seen? How do our bodies shape the ways we perceive the world around us? Can we change how we see each other?

Choreographers Jess Curtis and Claire Cunningham convened a two-day symposium  addressing  issues of embodied perception, physical diversity and performance raised in their work The Way You Look (at me) Tonight. The event featured philosopher Alva Noë, dramaturge Luke Pell, scholars Julia Watts Belser, Simi Linton, and Krista Miranda, disabled artists and scholars Alice Sheppard, Bill Shannon, Jerron Herman, Sunaura Taylor and Marissa Perel.

Co-hosted by Jess Curtis/Gravity and Gibney Dance in partnership with Movement Research, with funding by Dance/NYC’s Disability. Dance. Artistry Fund, made possible by the Ford Foundation.

Participant Bios

Julia Watts Belser is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Georgetown University. A scholar of ancient Jewish culture and contemporary feminist ethics, she has particular expertise in disability studies, queer theory, and environmental justice. An ordained rabbi and long-time disability activist, she is passionate about nurturing the sacrality of queer/crip arts and activism. Her latest book is Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem (Oxford University Press, 2018). She also co-authored A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities (Hesperian Foundation, 2007), a grassroots public health book used around the world and translated into more than ten languages.

Jerron Herman is a Dancer and Administrator primarily for Heidi Latsky Dance where he’s been a proud principal member since 2011. Jerron has been featured with the company at venues like Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival, and the Whitney Museum. Jerron’s currently on the Board of Trustees at Dance/USA and has sat on various symposium panels. He’s featured in an LA Press Club winning piece by John Bathke, “Open Studio with Jared Bowen” for PBS, and most recently a profile on dancing with Cerebral Palsy by Great Big Story. The New York Times has called him, "...the inexhaustible Mr. Herman."

Simi Linton is a Co-Director of the Disability/Arts/NYC Task Force [DANT], and an author, filmmaker, and arts consultant. Her writings include Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity, My Body Politic, and “Cultural Territories of Disability” in Disability. Dance. Artistry., published by Dance/NYC. She is the subject of the documentary film Invitation to Dance [Christian von Tippelskirch and Simi Linton]. Linton was on faculty at CUNY from 1985-1998. She received the 2015 Barnard College Medal of Distinction, an honorary Doctor of Arts from Middlebury College (2016), and was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015 to NYC’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission.

Krista K. Miranda is an interdisciplinary scholar of performance, gender, sexuality, and disability. After earning her Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University in 2015, she was a Visiting Lecturer in the Dance Program at Middlebury College in Vermont. As a Visiting Scholar in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Northeastern University, she is currently working on her manuscript, Playing with Your Parts: Dismantling Bodily “Wholeness” through Queer and Crip Performance. Miranda’s work can be found in The Oxford Handbook on Dance and Theater, Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, and the forthcoming collection, Pornographies: Critical Positions.

Alva Noë is a writer and philosopher living in Berkeley and New York. He is the author of Action in Perception (MIT 2004), Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness (FSG 2009), Varieties of Presence (Harvard 2012), and Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature (FSG, 2015). He is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Center for New Media and the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Noë is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2018 winner of the Judd/Hume Prize in Advanced Visual Culture. He is a contributor to National Public Radio’s science and culture blog 13.7 Cosmos and Culture.

Luke Pell is an artist based in Scotland fascinated by detail, nuances of time, texture, memory and landscape. Maker, curator and dramaturg he collaborates with other artists and organisations imagining alternative contexts for performance, participation and discourse that might reveal wisdoms for living. Noticing threads that weave between people and place his artistic projects take form as intimate encounters, poetic objects, installations and designed environments - choreographies - for physical and digital spaces. Luke was dramaturg for The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight, is a Dance Base (Scotland) Associate Artist 17-19, Dramaturg in Residence with South East Dance 2018, an Associate Artist of Fevered Sleep and regular collaborator with Janice Parker Projects.

Marissa Perel is an interdisciplinary artist based in New York. Working among the forms of dance, installation, and writing, their research is focused on choreography and disability, crip time and queerness, power and access, and pain and desire. Perel’s work, (do not) despair solo made its world premiere at the American Realness Festival 2018 at Abrons Art Center. Perel has received commissions from the Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago for Site Unseen: Disabling Conditions, and for the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in collaboration with Gregg Bordowitz. Perel is a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Low-Residency M.F.A. and has been a visiting artist at University of Michigan, Bryn Mawr, Barnard College, and Wesleyan University among others.

Bill Shannon is an interdisciplinary artist and maker who explores body-centric work through video installation, sculpture, linguistics, sociology, choreography, performance art, dance and politics. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography, a Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellowship in Performance Art among others and has worked as a choreographer and performer for Cirque Du Soleil on multiple projects. Bill is a 2018 Resident Scholar at The Frank Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University. His dance theater work, “Touch Update” premieres May 11th and 12th of 2018 at Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh PA.

Alice Sheppard is the founder and artistic lead of Kinetic Light, a collective of artists and collaborators working at the intersections of art, design, disability, race, technology, and dance.  Her artistic practice emerges from her academic career and her training in physically integrated and modern dance.  Engaging with disability arts, culture and history, Alice attends to the complex intersections of disability, gender, and race with movement that challenges conventional understandings of disabled and dancing bodies. Alice has worked for AXIS Dance Company and Infinity Dance Theater; she has also performed as a guest artist with Full Radius Dance, AXIS Dance Company, and Marc Brew Company.  In addition to boards  and review panels, she regularly works as a solo artist and academic speaker throughout the United States.

Sunaura Taylor is an artist, writer and activist. Her writing has been printed in various edited collections and publications. Taylor appeared with philosopher Judith Butler in Examined Life (Zeitgeist 2008). Taylor holds an MFA in art practice from the UC Berkeley. She is the author of Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation (The New Press). She is currently a PhD student in American Studies in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU.



Making Sense of Each Other—Embodied Practices
Offsite at Movement Research’s Avenue C  Studio with Jess Curtis and Claire Cunningham

Stroll and Talk
Keynote and Welcome from Claire and Jess

Panel: Acknowledging Lineages—(and not) Legacies for Disabled Artists
Moderated by Claire and Krista Miranda, with Alice Sheppard, Jerron Herman, Bill Shannon and  Marissa Perel (with Luke Pell Scribing/Visualizing) 

Stroll and Talk
Alva Noë and Julia Watts Belser open a moving public conversation



Conversation: Queer Animacy
Julia Watts Belser leads a conversation with Claire Cunningham, Sunaura Taylor, Alice Sheppard, Simi Linton and Marissa Perel with Luke Pell scribing/visualizing

Conversation: Phenomenologies and Politics of Access and Perception
Jess Curtis facilitates a conversation with Alva Noë, Sunaura Taylor, Bill Shannon and Krista Miranda with Luke Pell scribing/visualizing
Stroll and Talk
An Improvisational Performance Wrap Up