Designed to support the continued artistic development of dance artists with physical differences, and by extension the larger field of physically integrated dance and ultimately the dance community as a whole. This unique partnership between the Disability Studies’ UCLA Disability Inclusion Lab and the Department of World Arts and Culture/Dance will take place at UCLA in Los Angeles, June 23-29, 2019 and for the following two consecutive years through 2021.

Dancing Disability will set the stage for increased recruitment on the part of UCLA’s Dance MFA in the Physically Integrated Dance community. More tangible outcomes of Dancing Disability will include essays and scholarship in the form of print, and video documentation.

Conceived and directed by the School of Arts and Architecture’s Associate Dean and professor of choreography Victoria Marks, this intensive lab will bring together experienced and emerging disabled dance artists from across the world to engage in the creation of new performance work that challenges “ability paradigms”.  The UCLA Disability Inclusion Lab’s DANCING DISABILITY will offer artists an immersive engagement in disability studies scholarship alongside movement exploration and choreographic inquiry. Participants will engage one another through choreographic study and improvisation sessions designed to expand and deepen action languages while they consider how we represent, look at, transform and challenge ideas about the body, and personhood.

Victoria Marks will be joined by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (renown critical disability studies scholar, bio-ethicist and disability justice activist) and Alice Sheppard (choreographer, dancer and disability aesthetics provocateur) in this experimental, weeklong exploration that will combine small group study of the histories and social discourses surrounding disability justice, aesthetics and culture, with movement exploration and the creation of new choreographic work. At the center of this uniquely designed process is the notion that aesthetic production (dance) can serve as a change agent for the continued progress of disability justice.

This project is supported through funding from UCLA’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the School of Arts and Architecture.  The Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and Undergraduate Education Initiatives are contributing significant in-kind support.

There is no cost for the program and is supported through funding from UCLA’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the School of Arts and Architecture.  The Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and the Undergraduate Education Initiatives are contributing significant in-kind support.


Application will be available on December 15, 2018 and will be due in January 15, 2019. Please check back in December for the link to the application.

Vic Marks portraitVictoria Marks, an Alpert Award winner, Guggenheim and Rauschenberg Fellow, and Fulbright Distinguished Scholar, has been practicing knowing and unknowing, making dances for stage and film, for the past 37 years. Her work continues to consider citizenship, as well as the representation of disability. Marks’ creative work migrates between choreo-portraits and action conversations for individuals who don’t identify as dancers, and dances for dancers that fuel her inquiries into movement. Upcoming, Marks and Dan Hurlin re-envision Appalachian Spring.  A recipient of numerous grants, fellowships and awards for her work, Marks has also received the Grand Prix in the Video Danse Festival, the Golden Antenae Award from Bulgaria, the IMZ Award for best screen choreography and the Best of Show in the Dance Film Association’s Dance and the Camera Festival along with director Margaret Williams. In addition to teaching in WACD, Victoria serves as Associate Dean in UCLA’s School of Arts and Architecture, and as the Chair of UCLA’s Disability Studies minor.
Rosemarie_Garland-Thomson portraitRosemarie Garland-Thomson is a national spokesperson for disability whose essay, “Becoming Disabled” was recently featured as the lead piece in a new series by the New York Times of weekly essays by and about people living with disabilities. She is a professor of English and Bioethics at Emory University and co-director of the Emory College Disability Studies Initiative (DSI). She holds affiliated faculty appointments in the Department Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the Institute of Liberal Arts, the Center for Ethics, the Institute of Human Rights, and the Office of Sustainability Initiatives.

During her academic career, she has been a leader of interdisciplinary critical disability studies, the emergent field in higher education that promotes inclusion and brings innovative perspectives on disability to academic venues and the wider world. Broadly speaking, her foremost contribution is to bring forward the significance of making the world more accessible in every way to all people.

Alice Sheppard portraitAlice Sheppard saw Homer Avila, a disabled dancer, perform in 2004. Avila dared her to take a dance class; she did, and she loved moving so much that she resigned her academic professorship at Pennsylvania State University in order to begin a career in dance. She studied ballet and modern dance with Kitty Lunn and made her debut with Infinity Dance Theater. Sheppard joined AXIS Dance Company, an Oakland-based company where she toured nationally and taught in the company’s education and outreach programs. Since becoming an independent artist, Sheppard has danced in projects with Ballet Cymru, GDance, and Marc Brew Company in the United Kingdom and Full Radius Dance, Marjani Forté, MBDance, Infinity Dance Theater, and Steve Paxton in the United States.

An award-winning choreographer, Alice creates movement that challenges conventional understandings of disabled and dancing bodies. Engaging with disability arts, culture and history, Alice’s commissioned work attends to the complex intersections of disability, gender, and race. Alice is the founder and artistic lead for Kinetic Light, a project based collaborative working at the intersections of architecture, dance, design, identity, and technology to show how mobility – literal, physical, and conceptual – is fundamental to participation in civic life and to American national identity.

Alice is a board member for Dance/NYC, Urban Bush Women, Jess Curtis/Gravity and a leadership council member for CounterPulse. She has served on Dance/NYC’s Disability.Dance.Artistry Taskforce, grant review panels, and is a regular keynote speaker on disability, dance and accessibility.

For more information visit alicesheppard.com


For questions regarding Dancing Disability, please email Dancing Disability.