Alice Sheppard

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Alice Sheppard performs "So, I Will Wait."

Alice Sheppard is a disabled choreographer and dancer from Britain.[1] Sheppard started her career first as a professor, teaching English and Comparative Literature. After attending a conference on disability studies, she saw Homer Avila performed and was inspired. She became a member of the AXIS Dance Company and toured with them. She also founded her own dance company, Kinetic Light, which is an artistic coalition created in collaboration with other disabled dancers Laurel Lawson, Jerron Herman and Michael Maag, who also does lighting and is a video artist. A lot of Alice's work revolves intersectionality (her being a disabled, queer person of color).


Sheppard earned a doctorate in medieval studies at Cornell University.[1][2] She worked as an associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at Pennsylvania State University (PSU).[3] In 2004, she attended a conference on disability studies, where she saw Homer Avila perform. After talking with him at a bar, she took on a dare to take a dance class.[4][5][6] At the conference, she also met Simi Linton, who is the creator and co-director of Invitation to Dance, where Linton's own account of disability is intertwined with the stories of others, including Sheppard, whose image graces the cover of the film.[4][7] According to the other director of the film, Christian von Tippelskirch, "Alice a central figure [in the film]. She is an amazingly talented, forceful dancer, whether on stage or at a party".[4] The first dance lesson Sheppard took was taught by Kitty Lunn.[8] 2 years later she resigned from her academic professorship, and began her dance career. She continued her dance lessons with AXIS Dance Company, became an apprentice dancer in 2006 and then became a company member in 2007. Alice had studied ballet and modern dance [9][10]

During her apprenticeship, Alice explored techniques of dancing in a wheelchair and learning how disability can generate its own movement.[11] She learned to listen to her body. Post-apprenticeship, Sheppard toured nationally and taught for the Axis Dance Company in their education and outreach programs.[12] In 2012, she became an independent dancer and has since worked with companies in the United Kingdom and the United States.[3][10]

Sheppard is a multiracial, queer, Black Briton.[13][14] She has preferred not to detail the specifics of her disability.


Alice Sheppard and Laurel Lawson perform "Excerpt from Snapshot (Minsky's Burlesque, New Jersey, ca. 1954)," 2015.

In 2014, Sheppard collaborated with GDance and Ballet Cymru to create the performance Stuck in the Mud. The performance was presented as a promenade – an interactive performance where performers guided the audience through a tour of the site.[15] She has also performed with Full Radius Dance in both 2014 and 2015.[16][17]

In 2017, she collaborated with the Marc Brew Company to create BREWBAND, a performance that combined live rock music with live dance.[18][19] The show "blurs boundaries between musicians and dancers and challenges audience's perceptions of what live performance is".[20]

In 2017 Sheppard's dance company, Kinetic Light, created a piece entitled Descent (styled in all caps). Performed on an architectural ramp installation, The performance acts out the story of Andromeda and Venus, re-imagined as interracial lovers.[21] Sheppard performed Descent with Laurel Lawson in wheelchairs.

In 2017, Alice Sheppard became one of two 2017-2018 recipients of a fully supported production residencies from Gibney Dance. The award will provides resources to develop and stage new works.[22]

In February 2018, Sheppard performed at the ribbon cutting of an additional 10,000 square feet (930 m2) of space at the Gibney Dance Center. She also spoke at the 2018 Dance/NYC Symposium on a panel about growing the field of disability dance in NYC.[23]

In July 2018, she graced the cover of Dance Magazine, credited with "moving the conversation beyond loss and adversity."[11] Sheppard was featured as recently as February 2019 in the New York Times article, "I Dance Because I Can." This article features the work of both Sheppard and fellow artist and member of Kinetic Light, Laurel Lawson. "I Dance Because I Can" emphasizes the connection between "art and social justice", detailing the ways in which Sheppard's work responds to and evolves out of disability culture and aesthetics.[24]

In January 2019, Sheppard was one of 58 artists who were awarded the Creative Capital award.

Movement style and choreography[edit]

Alice creates choreography that challenges conventional understandings of disabled and dancing bodies. She engages disability arts, culture, and history. She is intrigued by the intersections of disability, gender, and race.[10] Intersectionality is what leads Alice to collaborating with other artists. Sheppard's dances use her wheelchair as an extension of her body.[25] She also uses crutches in her routines.[2] In 2016, she incorporated the use of ramps, built by engineering students at Olin College.[25] Sheppard also creates choreography that involves sex and sexuality.[26]

Her work doesn't confirm familiar stereotypes of disability. Her work explores the multiple identities she inhabits. Being honest, telling the complicated history and cultures of disability, race, gender, and sexuality. She believes disability is more than the deficit of diagnosis. It is an aesthetic, a series of intersecting cultures, and a creative force. She also believes that movements don't represent triumph over disability[27][11]

Below is a list of works choreographed by Sheppard.

List of Works Date
Doors 2013
I Belong to You 2014
So, I Will Wait 2015
Succumb 2016
Re-Membering a World to Come 2016
Trusting If/Believing When 2017
Where Good Souls Fear 2017
Descent 2017
REVEL IN YOUR BODY: a dance film story 2019
INCLINATIONS: a dance film 2019

Awards and grants[edit]


  • "Orosius, Old English translation of," in Michael Lapidge, ed., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, (1998), pp. 346–347.
  • Of This Is a King's Body Made: Lordship and Succession in Lawman's Arthur and Leir (2000)[35]
  • "The King's Family: Securing the Kingdom in Asser's Vita Alfredi," Philological Quarterly 80 (2001): pp. 409–439.
  • "Noble Counsel No-Counsel: Advising Ethelred the Unready," in Via Crucis: Essays on Sources and Ideas in Memory of J. E. Cross, edited by Thomas N. Hall, Thomas D. Hill, and C. D. Wright. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, (2002), pp. 393–422.
  • "Love Rewritten: Patronizing Meaning and Authorizing History in the Prologue to La3amon's [Layamon's] Brut," Mediaevalia 23 (2002): pp. 99–121.
  • Families of the King: Writing Identity in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (2004)[36]
  • "After Words," PMLA, 120 (2005): pp. 647–641.
  • "A Word to the Wise: Thinking and Wisdom in the Old English Wanderer," in Source of Wisdom: Studies in Old English and Insular Latin in Honour of Thomas D. Hill. Charles D. Wright, Frederick M. Biggs, and Thomas N. Hall, eds. University of Toronto Press, (2007). pp. 647–641.

Academic presentations[edit]

  • "Black Booty" at Spelman College (2010)
  • "Showing Spine" at Barnard College (2012)
  • "Embodied Virtuosity: Dances from Disability Culture" at Emory University (2014).[37]
  • "Practicing Dance: Backstage with a Disabled Dancer" at Arkansas State University and SUNY Geneseo (2014)[38]
  • "The Second Annual Longmore Lecture" at San Francisco State University (2015)
  • "Trained to Kill: Disability, Race and Dance" at University of Alberta and Georgetown University (2016)
  • "Adaptive Gear, Art, Aesthetics" at Olin College (2016)
  • "Disability Across Disciplines Symposium" at University of Virginia (2016)
  • "Overturning Expectations: Dance and Disability" at 92Y (2017)[39]

Public speaking[edit]

  • "Does Disability Need Fixing?" at HUBweek (2018)[40]


  1. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (30 October 2009). "A Dance Company Mixes Arms, Legs and Wheels". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b White, Jasmine (26 February 2016). "Promoting Disability Activism Through Dance". The Hoya. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Alice Sheppard - Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability". Archived from the original on 6 October 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Palladino, D.J. (29 January 2014). "Invitation to Dance". Independent. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Invitation to Dance: A Consecrated Dance Space". Invitation to Dance Movie. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Disability Is A Creative Force". Dance Magazine. 18 June 2018. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  7. ^ "Invitation to Dance (2014)". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Dancers with disabilities continue to fight for acceptance". Metro US. 3 July 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  9. ^ Ruidas, Kalani (25 February 2015). "Dance artist expresses complex ideas through movement". Golden Gate Xpress. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  10. ^ a b c AliceSheppard. "About". Alice Sheppard. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  11. ^ a b c "Alice Sheppard Proves It's Time To Redefine Virtuosity". Dance Magazine. 18 June 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  12. ^ "3Arts". Archived from the original on 6 October 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  13. ^ Sheppard, Alice (5 September 2019). "Member Spotlight: Alice Sheppard of Kinetic Light". Fractured Atlas (Interview). Interviewed by Molaundo Jones. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  14. ^ Sheppard, Alice (9 June 2020). "Performance-in-Place: An Evening with Kinetic Light" (Transcript) (Interview). Interviewed by Sara Reisman. Alice Sheppard: Hi. I'm Alice Sheppard. I am a light skinned multiracial black woman...
  15. ^ "Stuck In The Mud - Ballet Cymru". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Full Radius Dance". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  17. ^ Full Radius Dance (24 August 2014). "It is four years ago and it is yesterday EXCERPT: Quartet". YouTube.
  18. ^ "BREWBAND". 27 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 September 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  19. ^ Elderkin, Rachel (26 April 2017). "Marc Brew Company: Brewband review at Sadler's Wells, London". The Stage. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  20. ^ "MarcBrewCompany presents: BREWBAND". Indiegogo.
  21. ^ "Alice Sheppard - Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography".[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ Barone, Joshua (19 December 2017). "Gibney Dance Expands Its Residency Program". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Alice Performs at Gibney Dance Center Ribbon Cutting - Alice Sheppard". Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  24. ^ Sheppard, Alice (27 February 2019). "Opinion | I Dance Because I Can". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  25. ^ a b Putnam, Bailey (20 April 2016). "Physics + dance + wheelchair = art - The Boston Globe". Boston Globe. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  26. ^ Sheppard, Alice (27 February 2019). "Opinion | I Dance Because I Can". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  27. ^ Sheppard, Alice. "Manifesto". Alice Sheppard. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  28. ^ "Awards". Retrieved 6 October 2017.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "Fund". Archived from the original on 22 June 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  30. ^ "2017 MAP Fund Grantees". 22 May 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  31. ^ "NEFA's National Dance Project Announces Awards for New Dance Production and Presentation". 17 July 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  32. ^ "These Are the Performances Our Readers Loved the Most This Year". Dance Magazine. 1 December 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  33. ^ "United States Artists » 2019 Fellows". Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  34. ^ "Announcing the 2019 Creative Capital Awards". Creative Capital. 11 January 2019. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  35. ^ Sheppard, Alice (6 October 2017). "Of This Is a King's Body Made: Lordship and Succession in Lawman's Arthur and Leir". Arthuriana. 10 (2): 50–65. doi:10.1353/art.2000.0028. JSTOR 27869543. S2CID 161568612.
  36. ^ Sheppard, Alice (6 October 2017). Families of the King: Writing Identity in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9780802089847. Retrieved 6 October 2017 – via Google Books.
  37. ^ Jacobs, Hal (14 October 2014). "Alice Sheppard on Disability Dance and Access". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  38. ^ "Arkansas State to present 'Backstage' with a disabled dancer". Arkansas State University. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  39. ^ "Mobilizing Bodies: Dance & Disability at 92Y, Petronio at The Joyce, & Work Up 3.1 at Gibney". 8 April 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  40. ^ HUBweek (7 March 2019). "Does Disability Need Fixing?". YouTube. Retrieved 9 March 2019.

External links[edit]