> Member# 1845
> posted 21 March 2003 05:05 PM
> I've seen his work and find the below review from the voice to be more
> accurate than most of the other patronizing,
> just-because-he-has-a-disability-we-have-to-applaud-his-work "reviews".
> Fascinating for a moment as a singular work, yes, but it quickly becomes
> tiresome when extended to an evening length.
> Skit Skid
> Bill Shannon (a/k/a "CrutchMaster") suffers from a degenerative disease of his
> hip joints. Brave and ingenious, he's turned his condition into a means of
> making a spectacle of himself. He performs on the street and in theaters,
> locomoting on crutches and a skateboard. His moves, though limited, provide an
> engaging contrast between percussive pacing and lyrical gliding, and they're
> spiced with sleight-of-hand feats and illusions of flying as his legs swing
> free. Making a solo contribution to a varied program, he's compelling. But
> when he takes on a full concert, as he did at DTW in January with the Step
> Fenz Crew of break-dancers, the challenge is more than his quirky personal art
> can sustain. He resorts to dopey skits about the dark mean streets, the
> hospital, war—sites in which even the able-bodied are potential victims. —Tobi
terry, i dont know where you have seen my work. getting street dance to work for evening length is a definite challenge and I have asked a lot of my audience over the years. I also have tried to push audiences to understand this invented form of dance on crutches and what it means. despite these challenges in my work it would seem that with all of your dance classes and training that you would have a little more respect for an artist such as myself. I think its relevant that you are an able bodied dancer and that you see praise of my work from critics as based on pity. I find it ironic that you are close in height and weight with a parallel career of sorts as a dancer/model/actor. When a critic writes about your work and praises it you wont have to question whether they pity you which is convenient. But, I guess everybody has a catch somewhere its just not as easy to see and feel sorry for or enshrine. I thought I would share some of what I wrote about your post ( as representative of the thought behind it ) and tobi tobias's review which you posted about.
Terry...I hate to repeat myself but its such a gift.. I cant tell you.. you write that you see the positive side of the reviews I get as given to me because I am disabled and the ugly one that tobias wrote as accurate. Because physical disability is represented through the landscape of the body it is very hard to write about a dancer who shows such a disability without mentioning it. Whether critics like the work or not they always write about the disability. And everytime I talk to them I tell them .. its not about the disability its about the ideas.
From when and where I enter, I would assume that if you see me as a dancer then the fact that I dance on crutches is seen as part of any dance I perform. However, if you see me as someone using the crutches to make an act then you are blinded to me as a person. What blinds you to me is the condition I have (using crutches) causing you to credit the condition with the interest you have or lack thereof in the spectacle and dismiss it or place it on a pedestal. Both of these scenarios are regretable and both are possible but how would I ever know. IN a way its a maddening catch-22 that I will never find an answer to. noone would tell me.. "bill I felt bad about your disability so I will support your work." Just as noone would write "bill, I find the fact that you dance on crutches repulsive becuase you are using your disability to promote you art." neither of these viewpoints are valid.
Tobi Tobias writes of me "he turned his condition into a means of making a spectacle of himself" whereas, I was making a spectacle of myself through performance long before any visible onset of disability and that I continued to make a spectacle of myself after the disability became visible. What Tobi wrote is highly inaccurate and is derogatory to an artist because basically, I use my creativity and my artistic vision when creating spectacle. The disability is a part of who I am when in fact I am a part of the spectacle in question. In short, I am the invisible man cursed by the resolutely honest (how could they not be given my condition) and alternately praised by the generously pitiful. (how could they not be given my condition) This situation is a curse in a way and you have personified that curse in your post in the sense that you have voiced what I have known but never heard. but I will put away my violin and thank you terry dean. thank you for such a gift. I consider it proof.. proof about people in general.. not you specifically.. I know its there. but like a video clip capturing a moment so does your post encapsulate a phenomena I live..
critics do talk about it while I live it.. they can keep writng and I will keep dancing and writing back.
bill shannon whatiswhat.com