By Sheri Jardine
This Article originally appeared in @TheU
AXIS Dance Company’s artistic director, Marc Brew, uses a wheelchair. He is also an acclaimed dancer and choreographer, with a vision for changing the way dance is perceived by both disabled and non-disabled audiences.
In a story in the Miami Herald, Marc describes his journey of continuing to dance after a life-changing accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, finding ways to eliminate perceived restrictions and incorporate new movements to continue to create and share artistry through dance.
“People with disabilities are often shunted aside by the societies in which we live—ignored, discriminated against, or barely tolerated,” Brew writes in the story. “Today though many of us have forged new movements, new ways of living, finding in our commonalities and our differences a strength that begins to change the world. That has been my experience, and in my work as a dancer and a choreographer, I have tried to express the best of who I am, of who we are, and find the beauty in the challenges we face.”
Brew was named artistic director of AXIS Dance Company in 2017, bringing more than 20 years of experience to the nation’s most acclaimed ensemble of disabled and non-disabled performers. The company, founded in 1987, burst onto the dance scene with a commission by acclaimed choreographer Bill T. Jones. They have toured through the US, Europe, Israel and Russia. Through live performances through the US, Europe, Russia and Israel, in addition to multiple appearances on “So You Think You Can Dance,” AXIS has introduced integrated dance to millions of people worldwide.
As part of its mission to bring diverse artistic and cultural experiences to Salt Lake City and the U campus, UtahPresents, in partnership with the School of Dance and the Disability Studies Program, is bringing AXIS Dance Company to campus for a week of classes and workshops, culminating in a public performance on Friday, Nov. 8.
“The visit by the highly acclaimed AXIS Dance Company offers an amazing opportunity to experience the artistic and creative possibilities generated by diverse bodies in performance,” said Angela Smith, director of the Disability Studies Initiative. “AXIS’s dynamic performances transform the norms and boundaries of dance and movement, highlighting the creative and disruptive power of disability culture and art.”
During the company’s time on campus, Brew and the company’s dancers will conduct classes and workshops for students from a wide variety of disciplines, including dance, interdisciplinary teaching methods and special education, and will perform a matinee at Kingsbury Hall for over 1,700 fifth and 12th grade students from schools across the Wasatch Front. The company will also work with students and teachers at Jordan Valley School in Midvale, through support from the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program. And, in conjunction with Jordan Valley School and Tanner Dance’s Disabilities Creative Dance Classes, AXIS dancers will teach three classes to dance students with disabilities ranging in age from 5 years old to adults.
“By bringing AXIS to Salt Lake, we are providing opportunities for people with and without disabilities to see disability represented in a new way through dance,” said Robin Wilks-Dunn, community engagement manager at UtahPresents. “Having the company on campus for a full week means we can impact and inspire over two thousand students and community members by seeing the beauty and creativity of differently abled performers.”
Tickets are still available for the public performance on Nov. 8 with discounts available for students, faculty and staff.
AXIS Dance Company at a glance
Date and time
Nov. 8 | 7:30 p.m.
1395 E. Presidents Circle
U faculty and staff: Save 10% with UCard
U students with UCard (Arts Pass): $5
All other students with valid student ID: $10
Click here for more information.