Disability Issues

'Bodies of Work' celebrates disability arts and culture

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A celebration of disability arts and culture kicks off Wednesday in Chicago. It's 11 days of multi-venue events scheduled around the city.

"Bodies of Work" has something for everyone, including theatre, dance, films, literature and performance arts with various perspective from people with different disabilities.

"Bodies of Work" starts May 15 and runs through May 25 at different institutions around Chicago.

"We are showing the work in mainstream venues as well as grassroots venues, so it's unique in that way," said Carrie Sandahl, associate professor of disabilities studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago and the director of this event.

This is the second "Bodies of Work" festival.

"We have nationally and internationally known artists," said Sandahl. "We have a company called Back to Back Theatre from Australia. We have an artist named Brian Labell. He has a one-man show about the experience with cancer called 'Ball and Other Funny Stories About Cancer.'

"What is unique about us this is not necessarily mainstreaming people with disabilities, it's about finding out what art generates from our uniqueness."

Oak Park-based Momenta dance company will be part of "Bodies of Work." They have dancers with and without disabilities.

"We do a little bit of everything, modern, classical, ballet, jazz, contemporary," said Momenta associate director Anita Kenny. "Sometimes even a little bit of hip-hop."

Kenny says integrated dance is a team effort.

"It requires a lot of communication and open mind," said Kenny. "We're really hoping the disability community comes out to enjoy work that's made by and about people with disabilities. Usually we see work made about us, but not with us, so we're really excited."

The festival is open to the general public. There is a charge for some events.

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