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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Alice Sheppard NYC event announcement

“Showing Spine,
The Future of Disability Studies presents

“Showing Spine,” A Lecture/Performance by Alice Sheppard with a response by Chris Baswell
James Room, 4th Floor Barnard Hall
February 9, 6-8pm

your back into it.  Show some spine.  Embodying metaphor in a disabled
dancing body.  Spine comes either from the Latin or Old French words for
 “thorn,” “prickle,” or, yes, “spine.”  Botanically speaking, it is,
“[a] stiff, sharp-pointed process produced or growing from the wood of a
 plant, consisting of a hardened or irregularly developed branch,
petiole, stipule, or other part; a thorn; a similar process developed on
 fruits or leaves.”  Anatomically, it is, “[o]ne or other of several
sharp-pointed slender processes of various bones.”  Eventually, the
dictionary slides down to “any natural formation having a slender
sharp-pointed form” (OED: subscription only).

Before you get to the definition or, more accurately, the list of
usages for the word for the backbone of vertebrates, the dictionary
descriptions stress not the rigidity of the backbone itself – though
rigidizing and stabilizing are some of what a backbone does – but the
relationship between the outgrowths, the thorny processes, and the word
itself. I'm caught here. Intrigued.

Alice Sheppard, has been a musician and professor of medieval literature; she grew up in England and moved to the United States in 1991.  Alice came to dance late in life; she began to explore movement in response
to a dare from disabled dancer Homer Avila.  She soon discovered that
dance was a passion.  Alice made her
professional debut in New York with Infinity Dance Theater as a
wheelchair dancer.  She loves to explore a wide variety of dance forms;
she is particularly interested in work that challenges conventional
understandings of the relationship between dance and disability.  She
joined the AXIS Dance Company in 2006.

A clip of Alice Sheppard in performance with the AXIS Dance Company can be viewed at  Alice is the dancer who begins the performance at the upper right of the screen.  Another performance can be viewed at

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