The Artistry of the Amputee Dancer (Lawrence Shapiro)

Posted on May 18, 2018 by in Disrupt, Heightened Talk

Two women dancing in wheelchairs

Darting eyes flicker back and forth across a barren stage
The gazelle prance in rapid motion
One lower extremity present
One lower extremity absent
Shock waves at the barren amputee
The barren amputee
My scarred stump rubs each face
Back and forth
Flesh against flesh
The pulsating rhythm of a Tom Waits marimba
Sets my sole foot in motion while eight limbs on stage
And a multitude of limbs before me succumb to the barren amputee
The barren amputee
A million eyes gaze at cut flesh
Fuck that stump
My body falls and rises—no knobbly flesh
A single sole pounds the floor
Swooping the gravity
Out, out you two-legged mother fuckers
I claim that marimba as my own
My marimba

 

 

This clip shows Lawrence Shapiro dancing in a sketch called ‘Everything goes to hell’, from his show Discovering: A Series of Choreographic Sketches, recorded live at the Aki Studio Theatre, Toronto, Canada, June 27, 2016.

Video Description for Blind Readers 

The stage is dark with the spotlight on a man with reddish-blonde hair sitting on a chair centre stage. He faces the audience. He is wearing a white singlet, long khaki trousers and white socks. A man with black hair and a beard approaches him from downstage right, walking at an angle. The man is wearing a sleeveless light-khaki t-shirt and light-khaki tracksuit pants rolled up to the knee. He is barefoot. A woman with long black hair approaches from stage left walking at a similar angle. She is wearing a light-khaki jumper and ankle-length khaki pants. She is also barefoot.

The two approaching dancers grab the man on the chair by the arms and pull him to standing position. The male dancer with black hair grabs the chair and throws it to the side. He kneels and unbuckles the belt of the man wearing the white singlet. The female dancer pulls up the man’s white singlet so his stomach and chest are exposed. She holds the top of his arm. He is still standing. She then bends and pulls his khaki trousers down revealing dark khaki underpants and bare legs. His left leg is a full-leg prosthesis. The male dancer kneels on his right knee holding the man with the singlet as he sits on his left thigh. The female and male dancer then lift the man with the singlet into a standing position and unstrap his prosthetic leg. The woman kicks it left of stage. They support the man with the singlet under both arms and, facing the audience, they walk quickly, carrying him stage left. They turn, put the man on their shoulders and carry him centre stage. Their faces are serious. They rock the man back and forth from one side to the other. The man with the black hair grabs him and turns quickly, the woman runs off stage left then comes back to take his hand as he hops timidly. They place their hands under his chest as they lift and carry him almost above their heads upstage, where they put him down and stand a few steps away. He swivels his foot, moving slightly, seemingly unsteadily, from one side to the other. He flings his arms forward as if to create momentum, then starts hopping towards the audience. His prosthetic leg is in the foreground. The other dancers are no longer in shot. He hops around the stage, pirouetting boldly, then hops off stage right as the lights dim to darkness.

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A portrait of Lawrence ShapiroLawrence Shapiro is an amputee dancer and has been performing in Canada for over a decade as well as having been trained in the UK. His 2016 show Discovering was the first dance work in Canada to profile an above-knee amputee in a leading role. He has performed at the Vienna International Dance Festival as well as having given presentations about dance and limb loss at disability arts conferences across Great Britain. Lawrence is currently in rehearsal with Amici Dance Theatre in preparation for a disability dance piece to be included with the Hammersmith and Fullham Arts Festival in London, UK this summer and subsequent performances at Hammersmith Town Hall this autumn.

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