Boni works with Marc Brew and Jill Sigman
Heather Boni, first year MA in the School of Dance, is writing her thesis on the relationship between dance, disability and community, and had the opportunity to observe and interact with AXIS Dance Company during their two weeks in residency. She took the time to answer a few questions about her experience.
MANCC: What is your thesis focus? Did your time with AXIS inform your research?
Boni: My thesis focus is a collaboration of dance, disability, and community. I am interested in investigating the relationship of dance and disability and the connection of these to the greater community. I have had experience teaching dance to people with disabilities and have also danced in integrative workshops. I really appreciated the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Judy [Smith, AXIS Artistic Director] about dance and disability in today's society. She has paved the way to opportunity and has made a mark on professional integrative dance composition and choreography. We discussed proper terminology and language when considering dance and disability, artistic opportunities available to those with disabilities (or the lack there of), and how we can have an active role in advocating for change. This opportunity gave me a more educated sense of disability and dance and the necessity of offering more artistic opportunities and outreach to this population. I was also able to observe dance and disability on a professional level and analyze the unique movement qualities of an integrative company. I was given wise advice, guidance, and support from all in my future thesis endeavors. Judy has also graciously agreed to serve as a mentor to my future thesis.
MANCC: Did the experience of having observed all three choreographers in studio with AXIS open and/or challenge your own process/practice at all?
Boni: I found it very interesting to observe the works and processes of the three guest choreographers. It reminds me of how unique, expansive, and creative choreography is in our field. I was opened to three entirely different, but somehow complementary ways of constructing choreography and interpreting movement. My own choreographic process was challenged because of this observation experience. I am now asking more questions about my own choreographic process to further stretch my methods and means beyond my normal movement vocabulary and to look further into the physics and mechanics of movement and how our movement relates to our current natural environment. I will be taking many of the lessons, constructs, and collaborative methods of these choreographers in to my choreography class, and will try on different ways of creating movement.
MANCC: Any highlights during your time with AXIS?
Boni: AXIS Dance Company was absolutely welcoming, warming, and inspiring. I am so thankful for the opportunity to observe the inventive and unique choreographic approaches. This has allowed me to broaden my scope of choreographic knowledge and will also challenge me to test my limits! I have seen different examples of how to create new movement vocabulary and also how to integrate past memories, natural phenomena, and physics into movement phrases. I am also appreciative of the opportunity to observe, shadow, and network with AXIS Dance Company during their residency at MANCC. I am inspired by the creative edge, hard-work, and kind dispositions of the company members. I will remember this experience through the rest of my professional artistic career. This has re-inspired me to participate in AXIS's summer intensive and to continue learning about dance and disability in pursuit to create more artistic opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in and enjoy dance.