DESCENT reimagines the story of Greek mythical figures Venus and Andromeda as an interracial love story with choreography that conjures the aesthetics of August Rodin’s sculpture Toilet of Venus and Andromeda. Performing in wheelchairs, dancers Alice Sheppard and Laurel Lawson traverse a stage built with hills and curves. The duo climb to the summit of a ramp where they precariously balance on its edge and let gravity take over as they barrel back down, moving together and apart. Through emotional peaks and valleys, DESCENT explores themes of disability, race, and beauty to reveal how mobility is fundamental to participation in civic life.
Kinetic Light is a collective made up of professional disabled artists Alice Sheppard, Laurel Lawson, and Michael Maag. Sheppard is the artistic director and choreographer for Kinetic Light who performs the role of Andromeda in DESCENT. Lawson, performing the role of Venus, is a collaborator in choreography, costume and makeup design, as well as the software developer for DESCENT. Michael Maag is DESCENT’s lighting and video designer.
- 60-minute performance with 20-minute intermission
- Audio description provided (please note in the comments section of your ticket order)
- ASL interpretation provided for pre- and post-show announcements (the performance has no text)
- Entire first row dedicated to wheelchair-accessible seating
NOTE: Please share any specific access requests in the comments form of your ticket, in order to help our Front of House team prepare to welcome you.
EMPAC is an accessible venue. The lobby is accessible via the double doors facing Rensselaer’s campus with an entrance off of College Avenue. All-gender wheelchair-accessible restrooms are available on all public-access levels of the building. The main audience entrance to the theater is wheelchair accessible and located on EMPAC’s 5th floor, which can be accessed from the lobby by elevator. If you have any questions about access, please contact EMPAC Box Office Manager John Cook or call 518-276-2822 (voice only).
- 4PM — Box office opens
Level 7 Lobby
- 6:30PM — Tactile experience and audio description demos
Level 7 — Lobby
- 7PM — Event venue (Studio 1) opens
- 7:30PM — Event begins
- DESCENT Part One
- Intermission (20 minutes) — Café open
- DESCENT Part Two
- Post-show meet and greet with artists
Level 5 — Evelyn's Café
Dates + Tickets
DESCENT was made possible, in part, by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; General Operating support was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Dance/NYC’s Disability. Dance. Artistry Fund, made possible by the Ford Foundation with additional support provided by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation; the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University. DESCENT was also supported by Dancers’ Group’s CA$H grant program, Puffin Foundation West, Ltd., and the Yip Harburg Foundation.
EMPAC 2018–19 presentations, residencies, and commissions are supported by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts.