Integrated dance takes the stage at Victory Gardens

Photo by Lisa Green
Dancers with out and without disabilities delighted audiences with two shows at Victory Gardens Theater on May 21. Counter Balance VII was sponsored by Momenta, Bodies of Work, Momenta, the Department of Disability and Human Development in the College of Applied Sciences at UIC, and Victory Gardens. Counter Balance VII was the latest version of the annual integrated dance performance, which features artists and with and without disabilities dancing together. This year’s show included 12 performers and nine pieces, including solo pieces from Laurel Lawson, Alice Sheppard and Kris Lenzo.
Traditionally, Access Living hosted the performance. While Access Living was a good fit for the message of inclusion, because audience site lines created obstructed views, and in order to reach new audiences, the performance moved out of Access Living. Last year, Counter Balance performed at the National Museum of Mexican Art, and the dance premiered at
Victory Gardens for the first time in 2016.
It was always exciting when the show came to Access Living, but staging the performance at a main stream theater
allows Counter Balance to reach a wider audience and creates a better experience for audience members.
Whether or not members of the audience were dance aficionados, the show on May 21 included something for everyone, from the three part opening piece, “Into the Whirlwind,” choreographed by Access Living’s Ginger Lane, which featured the performers both dancing together and facing off against one another, to Descent from Beauty, a duet that found Laurel Lawson and Alice Sheppard dancing off one another both in and out of their chairs.
Counter Balance has become a regular fixture in the Chicago Arts & Culture Community. In 2016 is any indication, the performance will return for many years to come and the audiences will continue to expand.