Alice Sheppard


Wheelchair user; mobility impairment

I begin with embodiment. My wheelchair is not an adaptive device that I use for locomotion; it is not a tool that replaces my legs. I understand my chair as part of my body, even as I also claim that both in and out of my chair, my body is complete. I know this physically and emotionally from every contact my hand makes with my wheel and from the welcoming support of the floor. Each push has aesthetic merit; it is part of my line. Each roll on the ground is a distinct choice. I create my movement language from three different vocabularies: the movement enabled by my wheels, the movement arising from my impairment, and movement drawn from the conventional languages of mainstream non-disabled dance.

My engagement with disability art, culture, and history informs all my work. Dance by and for disabled artists does not exist in a vacuum. It is continually in conversation with the work of other disabled artists who are claiming uncharted territories and reinterpreting familiar art-world ideas. Disability dance reveals new questions about the representation of disability in canonical art forms.

I attend to intersections of gender, disability, and race in order to create art that speaks to such conventional and inaccurate platitudes as disability is genderless and sexless; black women are hypersexual. I make work that challenges the historical understanding of blackness as a disabled form of whiteness. In all this, I know the beauty of non-white, disabled bodies and minds to be paramount.

I Belong to You
1 min 40 secs

Trusting If / Believing When
48 secs / 34 secs

1 min 19 secs