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The Way You Look (at me) Tonight



The Way You Look (at me) Tonight

The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight is a social sculpture—a sensory journey, for two performers and audience. Dancing, singing, telling stories and asking questions, leading UK disabled artist Claire Cunningham and international choreographer and performer Jess Curtis, combine performance, original music, and video to wrestle (sometimes literally) with important questions about our habits and practices of perceiving each other and the world.

In collaboration with noted author and philosopher of perception Dr. Alva Noë, video artist Yoann Trellu, composer Matthias Herrmann, and dramaturge Luke Pell, they perform an evening-length duet that excavates their own ways of seeing each other—as a man and a woman of different ages, bodies and backgrounds. In 2005 Curtis was the choreographer who first introduced Cunningham to movement, leading to her career as a choreographer in her own right. Now a decade later they return to work together to co-create The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight.

How do we look at each other? How do we allow ourselves to be seen? How do our physicality’s shape how we perceive the world around us? How much can we affect the way we see others? Can we learn to see across lines of difference in new ways?

A hugely accessible work about access, expanding a term typically associated with ramps and lifts into a mode of looking at the world, a method of negotiation, a way of figuring out what others need, and how we might provide for them.
— Exuent Magazine
Is it dance? It is certainly beautiful movement.
Is it poetry? There are words to love, to enlighten, to educate and to challenge. This was a mind blowing experience for me. Highly recommended.
— Fiona & Sean Eubanks, audience members (The Place, London)
Really moving and accessible - didn’t know what to expect but absolutely loved it.
— Becky Barnes, audience member (The Place, London)
This is seriously thought provoking stuff. The Americano wrapping may mislead some to think of it as intellectualised trivia but there is genuine substance here. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
— Hamid Anvari, audience member (The Place, London)







17 & 18 April 2019 :: LOFFT - Das Theater - Leipzig, Germany

2 & 3 May 2019 :: Tanzhaus Zurich - Zurich, Switzerland

8 & 9 May 2019 :: Norrlandsen Opera - Umea, Sweden

19 & 20 May 2019 :: The Place - London, United Kingdom

30 May 2019 :: Kleines Haus - Bremen, Germany

Workshops & PanelS:

20 & 21 April 2019 :: Making Sense of Each Other at Un-Label - Cologne, Germany
Workshop with Jess Curtis and Claire Cunningham

26 - 28 April 2019 :: HfMDK - Frankfurt, Germany
Workshop for students only

3 May 2019 :: Disabled people make more exciting art! - Tanzhaus Zurich - Zurich, Switzerland
Claire Cunningham Panel Discussion

3 May 2019 :: The Way You Look (at me) Tonight: Moving Perspec - Tanzhaus Zurich - Zurich, Switzerland
Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis Panel Discussion

20-23 May 2019 :: Copenhagen, Denmark - check back for info


Jan 10 - 13 :: Performance in New York, NY
American Realness at Gibney Dance

Jan 15 - 19 :: Workshop in New York, NY
Watch Me Watch You
Jess and Claire teach as part of MELT presented by Movement Research

Jan 20 - 21 :: Symposium in New York, NY
Making Sense of Each Other
Co-hosted by Jess Curtis/Gravity and Gibney Arts Center in partnership with Movement Research

Feb 2 - 3 :: Performance in Burlington, VT
Presented by Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

Feb 8 - 11 :: Performance in Chicago, IL
Presented by Musuem of Contemporary Art Chicago

March 14 - 15 ::  German Tanzplatform 2018
Essen Germany PACT Zollverein

May 21 :: TANZ! Heilbronn Festival, Heilbronn, Germany


April 29 - 30 :: Tanzhaus in Dusseldörf, Germany

May 19 - 20 :: The Place in London, England

May 23 - 24 :: Norfolk & Norwich Festival in Norwich, England

November 9-10 :: Spielart Festival Munich


Site 1: London
Tue-Wed Sep 6-7, 2016
Unlimited Festival @ Southbank Centre

Site 2: Glasgow, Scotland
Thu-Fri Sep 15-16, 2016
Unlimited Festival @ Tramway

Site 3: San Francisco
Thu-Sun Sep 29-Oct 9, 2016
Presented by YBCA and CounterPulse @ CounterPulse

Site 4: Berlin
Wed-Sun Nov 2-6, 2016
Tanzfabrik's Open Spaces Festival @ Uferstudios


San Marcos, CA
Thu Sep 22, 2016
Presented by PADL West @ Cal State San Marcos

Miami, FL
Fri-Sat Oct 14-15, 2016
Presented by Tigertail @ Miami Dade Auditorium

Washington, DC
Sat - Sun Oct 22-23, 2016
Dance Place

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“It’s an eclectic, provocative and often fascinating view of the capabilities of the human form, of social perceptions, and of how far the art of dance can be pushed.”
– The San Francisco Chronicle

“I have never been so transfixed.”
– The Glasgow Guardian

“Walking into a dance rehearsal, one doesn’t expect to see a philosophy professor rolling on the floor doing contact improvisation. But when the choreographer is Jess Curtis, it’s best to expect the unexpected.”
– The San Francisco Chronicle

“The evening was a thought-provoking, thought-challenging experience that left me more aware of my preconceptions about myself and about others, and prodded me to choose my thoughts more carefully.”
– Leigh Donlan, Ballet to the People

“Here is where we start to get a glimpse of how philosophy and choreography really do work together… to imagine other possible ways of being and understanding.”
– Andy Horowitz, CultureBot

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Created and Performed by: Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis
Philosophical Consultation by: Alva Noë
Dramaturgy by: Luke Pell
Video Design by: Yoann Trellu
Composed by: Matthias Herrmann
Lighting Design by: Chris Copland
Costume Design by: Michiel Keuper


Claire Cunningham is a performer and creator of multi-disciplinary performance based in Glasgow, Scotland. One of the UK’s most acclaimed and internationally renowned disabled artists, Cunningham's work is often rooted in the study and use/misuse of her crutches and the exploration of the potential of her own specific physicality with a conscious rejection of traditional dance techniques (developed for non-disabled bodies) or the attempt to move with the pretence of a body or aesthetic other than her own. A self-identifying disabled artist, Cunningham’s work combines multiple artforms and ranges from the intimate solo show ME (Mobile/Evolution) (2009), to the large ensemble work “12” made for Candoco Dance Company. In 2014 she created a new solo: Give me a reason to live, inspired by the work of Dutch medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch and the role of beggars/cripples in his work, and the full length show Guide Gods, looking at the perspectives of the major Faith traditions towards the issue of disability. She is a former Artist-in–Residence at the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank, London and of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens. In 2016 she is the Artist in Residence with Perth International Arts Festival, Australia and Associate Artist at Tramway, Glasgow, and she has recently been awarded an Unlimited Commission for a new duet with choreographer Jess Curtis.

Jess Curtis is an award-winning choreographer and performance artist who is committed to an art-making practice that is informed by experimentation, innovation, critical discourse, and social relevance at the intersections of fine art and popular culture. Curtis co-founded the radical performance collective CORE, and created and performed multi-disciplinary dance theater throughout the U.S., Europe, and the former Soviet Union with Contraband in the 80’s and 90’s. In 2000, after 15 years of making dance in the Bay Area as an independent choreographer, Curtis founded his own company, Jess Curtis/Gravity. Known for his interdisciplinary and cross-genre work, Curtis has collaborated with some of the most innovative artists working today, including Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Jules Beckman, Keith Hennessy, Angela Schubot, Ingo Reulecke, Jochen Roller, Sommer Ulrickson, Maria Francesca Scaroni, Jörg Müller, Claire Cunningham, and many others. He has been commissioned or co-commissioned to create works for Artblau, the LOFT Theater, Schloss Bröllin, Berlin Senat, and Fabrik Potsdam (Germany); ContactArt (Italy); Theatre de Cachan and Chien Cru (France); Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company and DaDa Fest (England); Croi Glan Integrated Dance (Ireland); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the San Francisco Edge Festival, the Florida Dance Association/ Tigertail Productions, the National Performance Network, and ODC Theater (US.) The 2011 winner of the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts for choreography, Curtis’s other honors include six Isadora Duncan Dance awards, a Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and two SF Weekly Black Box Awards. Curtis is active as an advocate and community organizer in the field of dance and disability, and teaches Dance, Contact Improvisation, and Interdisciplinary Performance for individuals of all abilities throughout the US and Europe. He has been a visiting professor at UC Berkeley and and the University of the Arts in Berlin. He holds an MFA in Choreography and PhD in Performance Studies from UC Davis.

Alva Noë is a writer and a philosopher living in Berkeley and New York. He works on the nature of mind and human experience. He is the author of Action in Perception (MIT Press, 2004); Out of Our Heads (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2009); and Varieties of Presence (Harvard University Press, 2012). The central idea of these books is that consciousness is not something that happens inside us, or to us. It is something we do. Alva's new book on art and human nature, Strange Tools, was released by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on September 22, 2015. Alva received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1995 and is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center for New Media. He previously was a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been philosopher-in-residence with The Forsythe Company and has also collaborated with dance artists Deborah Hay, Nicole Peisl, Jess Curtis, Claire Cunningham, Katye Coe, and Charlie Morrissey. Alva is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and a former fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He is a weekly contributor to National Public Radio's science blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture.

Luke Pell is fascinated by detail, nuances of time, texture, memory and landscape, He is an artist living in Scotland working in and in between spaces of dance, theatre and live art. A maker and curator, he collaborates with other artists and organizations imagining alternative contexts for performance, participation and discourse that might reveal wisdoms for living. Noticing threads that weave between people and place his work takes form as intimate encounters, poetic objects, installations and designed environments for physical and virtual spaces. Approaching these large and small-scale works as responsive dances and choreographies that attend to notions of loss and landscape, memory and materiality through the poetry of the body. Committed to artist and art-form development Pell’s curatorial projects create spaces for artists and experts from different fields and realities to gather and explore relationships between words and movement, periphery and community. Arriving at new perspectives, articulations and understandings of what it is to be in the world, through interdisciplinary collaboration. Pell is an Associate Artist with Candoco Dance Company, Fevered Sleep and Janice Parker Projects.

Yoann Trellu is a french video artist based in Berlin since 2003. He started working with live projections in Nantes, France, in 1999, first using photography and slide projections, but quickly moved to computer, video projection and real time media software such as Max/Msp/Jitter. He creates video content and develop custom video applications for performance and theater. Since 10 years he worked on more than 40 productions in Germany, France and USA: Post-Theater (Berlin, New York, Tokyo), Konzert theater Bern (Switzerland), Landestheater Coburg (Germany), Jess Curtis-Gravity (Berlin, San-Francisco), Tatraum Projekte Schmidt (Germany), Ten Pen Chii (Berlin), Shang Chi Sun (Berlin, Taiwan), Junge Staatsoper (Berlin), Theater Strahl (Berlin).

Matthias Herrmann studied cello with Rudolf Mandalka at the Robert Schumann Hochschule, Düsseldorf, Germany. He has created numerous award-winning scores for the productions of international dance theatre companies including Do Theater (St. Petersburg, Russia), Fabrik Company (Potsdam, Germany), Howard Katz (Berlin/New York) and Jess Curtis/Gravity (San Francisco/Berlin). He co-founded the internationally touring band PostHolocaustPop.

Chris Copland graduated from Goldsmiths College with a MA Theatre Arts in 2001. He has worked extensively in theatre and dance since 1993. He has worked as Production Manager for such companies as Bedlam Dance, Nigel Charnock, Ursula Martinez, Laila Diallo and Wendy Houstoun, and Flexer & Sandiland amongst many others. Lighting design credits include “Stupid Men”, "One Dixon Road" and “Ten Men” for Nigel Charnock: “Ostrich” for H2 Dance: “Heart of Darkness’ and “City of Tribes” for Tavaziva Dance: “Still” for Candoco, “My Stories Your emails’ and Free Admission for Ursula Martinez: “All Ears’ for Kate McIntosh: “Pact with Pointlessness” for Wendy Houstoun.  Chris also regularly lectures in acting and devising for the theatre.

Michiel Keuper graduated in fashion design from ArtEz the Institute of the Arts in Arnhem (NL). With his fashion label Keupr/van Bentm he presented his collections during Paris Fashion Week for several years and his autonomous fashion work has been included in museum collections and has been exhibited internationally. Alongside working as a freelance women's wear designer for companies such as G-star RAW and PUMA Black Station, he has been teaching design at BA and MA courses in the Netherlands and Germany. In the past years he extended his practice to fine arts, performance and art direction, involving painting, set and costume design for contemporary dance as well as singing. Recently he has worked with Hana Lee Erdman, Jeremy Wade, Miguel Gutierrez, Antonija Lvingstone and Sheena McGrandles.


Funder Credits

New York performances made possible with funding provided by Dance/NYC’s Disability. Dance. Artistry Fund, made possible by the Ford Foundation. Additional support provided by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.

The Way You Look (at me) Tonight was created with support from Unlimited, celebrating the work of disabled artists, using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and Spirit of 2012; the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The San Francisco Arts Commission, The Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Grants for the Arts; Fonds Darstellende Künste, Kofinanzierungsfonds des Regierenden Bürgermeisters von Berlin – Senatskanzlei | Kulturelle Angelegenheiten; co-commissioned by Tramway Glasgow and supported by Tanzfabrik Berlin,  CounterPulse, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The Place London, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and British Council

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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