AXIS takes advantage of physical
differences to spur creativity.
BY LAUREN WINGENROTH
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KYLE FROMAN
35 DANCE MAGAZINE
Watching Dwayne Scheuneman and
Keon Saghari partner is like watching
contact improvisation meet parkour.
She climbs up his body and balances
on his shoulders as if they were just
another ;oor. The two dart in a tight,
quick circle, and then he ;ies across the
stage, rounding each corner with dangerous speed. Rather than being seen as
a limitation, Scheuneman’s wheelchair is
leveraged as a choreographic tool.
Twenty-nine years ago, before
“diversity” was a dance world buzz-word, before the 1990 Americans with
Disabilities Act was signed into law,
AXIS Dance Company was making work that challenged ideas about
whose bodies were capable of dancing.
Now the country’s premiere physically
integrated company (both disabled and
nondisabled dancers perform), AXIS
still leads the push for more-inclusive
dance, working with choreographers
like Bill T. Jones, Kate Weare and David
Dorfman to create one-of-a-kind pieces
that couldn’t be replicated by your
average modern dance company.
The headlining work of the
Oakland-based troupe’s current tour,
to go again by Joe Goode, explores the
experiences of combat-injured veterans
and their families. Goode’s signature
dance-theater blend tells their stories
using text from interviews conducted
by the choreographer and the dancers.
The performers speak and sing about
the veterans’ resilience while moving
through phrases that re;ect the trauma
of war. The dancers’ bodies hold hints
of their own trauma, and suggest their
own resilience as disabled movers. ;
Brendan Barthel, Keon Saghari
and Dwayne Scheuneman
rehearse Marc Brew’s Divide.