This Powerful Video Shows What It's Like to Dance with Cerebral Palsy
Jerron Herman in Heidi Latsky's "On Display"
When Jerron Herman was diagnosed with hemiplegia cerebral palsy, the doctors told him that he would likely need help doing everyday tasks like eating and getting dressed.
Today, Herman is six years into his professional dance career. He currently performs with Heidi Latsky Dance, an integrated company that includes dancers with a range of physical abilities. He also serves as the youngest member of The New York Dance & Performance Awards (or Bessies) selection committee.
This video created by
Great Big Story shows how Herman's disability enriches his movement quality, adding a layer of texture and nuance that's captivating to watch. "The things that were perceived as negative are now enfolded into the choreography," says Herman. But that doesn't mean he can't perform codified steps, too: "I've been told my arabesque is crazy!" he says.
Herman balances virtuosity and control, subtlety and complexity when executing Latsky's choreography—and watching him rehearse next to his colleagues is a powerful demonstration of how different dancers with different abilities can bring new dimension to the same phrase.
The dance world is still incredibly restrictive for disabled performers. But dancers like Herman show that it's not only possible to dance with a disability—but that disability can inform movement in invaluable ways. "I've always been an advocate for those who pursue the antithesis of their limitation," he says.
Watch more of Herman in Heidi Latsky's On Display, a movement installation focusing on diversity and visibility:
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.