Petra Kuppers & Sydney Erlikh

The power of Difference – a conversation with Petra Kuppers & Sydney Erlikh


In this conversation, Petra Kuppers talks about the power of difference, and about working in disability culture settings. She will discuss various performances, including the Salamander Project, a multi-year project where she went swimming with fellow disabled people world-wide, and also her current work during the COVID-19 pandemic. She will focus on the validity of artistic practice that is supported by difference and not reduced by it. How can we invent new forms of moving together?

WHEN: Monday 7.6.21 @ 17:00-18:00


Meeting ID: 881 2919 3578

Passcode: 726669

Petra Kuppers is disability culture activist, a wheelchair dancer, and a community performance artist. She creates participatory community performance environments that think/feel into public space, tenderness, site-specific art, access and experimentation. Petra grounds herself in disability culture methods, and uses ecosomatics, performance, and speculative writing to engage audiences toward more socially just and enjoyable futures. She teaches at the University of Michigan in performance studies and disability culture, and is also an advisor on the low-residency MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College.

Petra received the American Society for Theatre Research’s best dance/theatre book award, the National Women’s Caucus for the Arts’ Award for Arts and Activism, and her performance poetry collection Gut Botany was named one of the top ten US poetry books of 2020 by the New York Public Library.

She is the Artistic Director of The Olimpias, an international disability culture collective, and co-creates Turtle Disco, a somatic writing studio, with her wife, poet and dancer Stephanie Heit, from their home in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Her next academic book project, Eco Soma: Pain and Joy in Speculative Performance Encounters, will appear with the University of Minnesota Press in early 2022.

Her other books include Disability and Contemporary Performance: Bodies on Edge (2003), Community Performance: An Introduction (2007, 2nd edition 2019), The Scar of Visibility: Medical Performance and Contemporary Art (2007), Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape (2011), Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction (2014), and Theatre and Disability (2017).

Sydney Erlikh (MSEd) a doctoral candidate in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago. There she is studying dance and disability to create multi-sited ethnography on inclusive dance groups that work with dancers with intellectual disabilities. Sydney taught special education in alternate assessment classrooms for seven years in New York City and California. Sydney is a DanceAbility certified teacher and attended the AXIS dance teacher training. She was awarded a Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellowship with her partner Maggie Bridger which led to the creation of the Inclusive Dance Workshop Series at Access Living.

Sydney was a 2020 See Chicago Dance Writing Fellow and was admitted to the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research at Harvard University for the 2021 session. Sydney works for Bodies of Work, a Chicago disability arts and culture organization.