Multiple Sclerosis is a condition I watched take its toll as a caregiver in my own family. In 1989, I myself was diagnosed with MS. That shock sent me into a “black hole” for two years. When I emerged, I had a desperate need to make things - to create rather than to merely feel my losses. Two artistic tools that I had developed before my diagnosis - dance and video - became my lifelines. By combining them, a new way of working emerged that allowed me to continue in the dance world even though the kinesthetic joy of dancing that had initially been my passion had changed.
I developed a number of unique arrangements that combine performers with live video cameras, projectors, and prerecorded images. This technology allows me to expand the limitations of my own body.
Through the use of video and sound, I create environments where people and things are not always as they seem. The imagery is fragmented; bodies are scrambled and disjointed. Shadows and shapes morph and merge with live performers. One performer’s legs are spliced onto the body of another. My head may float through the audience, trapped in a tiny tv monitor, disconnected from any body.
Within these interactive environments, performers from different styles and abilities have space to be themselves or to evolve into something else entirely. This signature approach reflects how I see myself both as a performer and as a person living with MS in the everyday world; an artistic reflection of my ever-changing physical state.
Daily life for people living with disability is navigating a world created for the able-bodied. Jennifer Dunning noted in the New York Times that “the way [Weis] unsentimentally weaves in her own real-life struggle with multiple sclerosis makes the point, without over doing it, that the body itself produces a rough kind of magic.” I approach disability, inclusiveness, and performance as both mundane realities and hot-button political issues.
My creative community is comprised of artists across a broad spectrum of ability and identity including disabled, non-normative, multi-generational artists. I foster a vision of society where all participants are treated as whole people. Ability, age, gender, and race are aspects of each person on stage but no single element defines them. Disability is part of daily life. All elements come together to form a fully realized, complex person both in life and on stage. As an alter-abled choreographer, I am responsible for my own representation and performance, which is in itself a political statement.