Two audience members lick the pant leg and cane of performer Marissa Perel. While this happens she recalls awkward and downright insulting moments related to her disability. In one particularly horrifying story she tells the audience about a subway rider who called her a “bitch” after she refused to answer why she had a cane.
This, at once, funny and cringe-inducing moment was a part of Perel’s performance (do not) despair solo, one of the four performances featured in Our Configurations at Gibney Dance. In a short post-show discussion with the performers and NYU professor Hentyle Yapp, Perel defined her work as “an act of resistance against normativity.” This could be said of all of the performers in the show, including Marc Brew, AXIS Dance Company and Kinetic Light. Despite attempts at increased inclusivity at most arts organizations, abled-bodied performers are still largely the norm. And that’s a shame.