ALU - Kelly Strayhorn - Bill Shannon-21

Bill Shannon’s Touch Update explores social constructs surrounding disabled bodies

The Painted Bride presents the Philadelphia premier of Bill Shannon’s Touch Update, October 19 & 20 at 8pm. Known for creating groundbreaking choreographies that explore the social constructions that surround disabled bodies, Bill Shannon combines movement, wearable projection technology and video installation to explore the significant and often subtle implications of physical human contact in the digital era.

For over 27 years, Shannon has been creating movement pieces of personal, political and cultural significance by exploring the cultural factors  that surround disabled bodies, and developing movement techniques that formulate virtuosic new mobilities. He also has a noted history of examining and experimenting with urban art forms and practices, and translating them into theatrical contexts.

Touch Update, carries forward his belief that authentic forms of disabled dance emerge from the disabled individual who mines the physical details of their own lives to create dances that reflect that singular lived experience. Positioning his body of work as an “outsider artist,” he continues to use the “disabled” body to create very specific movement patterns that can then be set on able bodied performers; this work stands in contrast to the historically dominant vocabularies of the able-bodied being adapted for the disabled, trained or untrained performer.

Bill Shannon is an interdisciplinary artist and maker who explores body-centric work through video installation, sculpture, linguistics, sociology, choreography, dance and politics. Bill has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography, a Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellowship in Performance Art, and has worked as a choreographer and performer for Cirque Du Soleil. Bill’s contributions to dance include a very specific movement vocabulary evolved through his creative use of crutches as a child after the discovery of a physical disability that affected his ability to bear weight in his hips. Bill’s subsequent immersion in the emergent youth cultures of hip-hop and skateboarding further contributed to his autodidactic form on crutches. Shannon eventually moved to New York City and became a fixture at underground dance clubs, where he fused his history of childhood play on crutches with his contemporary kinetic expressions of hip-hop and skateboarding. The result of this fusion was a singular style of mobility, performance art and dance that required multiple new designs and fabrications of modified crutches to sustain technical advances in his movement practices.

The performances are accompanied by a free (RSVP) community workshop on October 20 from 11am-12:30pm. The Slowdanger Physical Integration (SPI) Workshop is an explorational movement experience accompanied by an evolving sound score.

Touch Update comes to the Painted Bride Art Center location at 230 Vine Street, October 19 & 20 at 8pm. Tickets are on sale now—$20 General Admission. To purchase, log on to or call the box office at 215-925-9914.

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