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An Hour with AXIS Dance Company

Today I had the incredible pleasure and honor to attend a collaborative workshop between the 2017 Acting Major class and AXIS Dance Company.

AXIS is a dance company based in Oakland, California that exists to “change the face of dance and disability.” They are currently celebrating their 30th anniversary, and are here for a week-long residency at Boston University. They describe their artistic mission as this:

The heart of AXIS is the commissioning, creation and performance of contemporary dance that is developed through the collaboration of dancers with and without physical disabilities. More than any other company in the United States, AXIS has been at the forefront of the field bridging a bridge between contemporary dance, integrated dance and disability culture.

AXIS currently consists of 9 company members/dancers, including artistic director Marc Brew. Brew is an extraordinarily talented dancer, choreographer, speaker and teacher, who has been a part of many reputable dance companies all around the world. Brew’s recent solo show For Now, I Am debuted in London and was named one of the Guardians Top 10 Dance Shows of 2016. The piece focused on Brew’s relationship to his body after a car accident in 1997 that changed the way he moved forever:

Stripped back – for the first time since his car accident in 1997 – Brew will create a work that engages directly with his body as it is now. Investigating and exposing his changed form.

Exploring themes of what it is to be broken, reborn, purified, to reconcile being in the world in an entirely new way, to build a dialogue with a body transformed. Brew confronts his most essential aspects, in this distilled form.

In our workshop, Brew and his fellow company members led us through some warm-up exercises and then a few movement explorations. We were jungle cats for a while, swimmers in the ocean, complex human machines,  farm animals, etc. Brew repeatedly reminded us to listen to our impulses, our bodies, and each other.

It was an indescribable experience to be working in a room with fellow theatre artists who had different relationships to their physical bodies that I do. The freedom and the playfulness with which we were all able to explore one another allowed us to showcase how we each move in unique and highly-individual ways. My biggest takeaway from AXIS is to be true to my own body and how it moves through space, and to continue to be curious and hungry to learn about stories that involve experiences different from my own.


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