The original idea for AXIS Dance evolved in 1987, when then-Artistic Director Thais Mazur created a company where special needs dancers could explore the artistic elements of dance. The company premiered in 1988 to standing ovations and soon expanded to offer educational programs that opened the minds of aspiring dancers. The company displayed a specific movement vocabulary for expressing what is known as “physically integrated” dance, allowing dancers with and without special needs to perform together in choreographed work.
In 1997 AXIS expanded its focus once again when co-Artistic Directors Judith Smith and Nicole Richter took the helm. Through the collaboration with Dance Umbrella, the directors created the first International Festival of Wheelchair Dance, bringing the art form to greater mass attention and appeal. Dance Access and Dance Access/KIDS were also created to broaden the educational appeal of working with special needs dancers.
In 2001 Judith Smith became sole Artistic Director, inviting Meredith Monk, Bill T. Jones, Stephen Petronio, Margaret Jenkins and other outside choreographers to create work for the dancers. Since then AXIS has won many awards, commissions, and grants and has performed in documentaries and festivals as well as theaters throughout the country and Europe.
Uniquely innovative, AXIS’ dancers exhibit a physical prowess that combines with poetic nuance, daring, speed, and an artistic aesthetic that rivals the best companies in dance. To see a piece like Alex Ketley’s Vessel, combining movement with the poems of Carol Snow, or Light Shelter, by David Dorfman in collaboration with AXIS dancers, is a treat for anyone looking for inspiration through the art of dance. (MK)
Axis Dance Information
- Public Transportation: Varies by venue
- Handicapped Accessibility: Depends on venue, but generally good
- Performances/Programs: 1 home season production of 3-4 performances; 3 in theatre performances for schools; 3 informal showings of students’ work; 36 school performances; 10-20 other shorter performances and shared events; tour 1-5 cities per year and occasionally internationally
- Ticket Prices: Vary by performance and venue.