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Career Profile: Dancer/Artistic Director

If you’re just joining us, we are currently in the middle of a theme of blogs entitled, “Career Profiles.” For the last several months I have been finding individuals who happen to have a disability and highlighting their career trajectory. It has proven to be a very inspiring theme as it shows to others how anything can be possible, as long as there is forward thinking and creativity. I was corresponding with two separate individuals for this month’s blog, and due to timing, we collectively decided to have them be featured at a later month. For this month, I decided to highlight the career and philosophy of one of the artists included in VSA Art’s informational guidebook, Putting Creativity to Work. There were several artists who resonated with me, but dancer Kitty Lunn’s attitude and philosophy really won me over.

Kitty Lunn showed a love for dance at an early age, beginning when she saw a dance film with her grandmother at the age of eight. Following that, she danced principal roles with the New Orleans Civic Ballet, which led her to receive a scholarship with the Washington Ballet. Soon, Lunn’s performing arts career was in full swing, landing her a role in a Broadway show. Unfortunately, she had a terrible accident when she slipped on some ice and fell down a flight of stairs, breaking her back. Lunn became a paraplegic and began using a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her career in the art of dance. She went on to be the founder and Artistic Director of Infinity Dance Theater, a non-traditional dance company that is home to dancers with and without   disabilities. Her hope and goal with the company was to broaden what we think of as a dancer, and how that idea can lead to more inclusion in the world of dance.

Kitty Lunn faced the school of thought that views her type of inclusive dancing as therapeutic, and not simply what it is: dancing. She argues that the biggest issue that she faced when becoming an artist with a disability was getting society at large to view her apart from the “medical model.” As a creative individual myself, I can certainly attest to the fact that it easy for me to first be viewed as disabled, and then as a person possessing a skill, trade, or talent. It’s as if to say that it is remarkable that anyone could achieve their goals and be disabled. Lunn’s philosophy is that we need to think of art outside of that realm of thinking, and that her form of dance and dance direction is simply a different way of demonstrating the art. Quite possibly the most poignant piece that Lunn wishes to impart on others is this: “Disability doesn’t diminish talent. It does, however, diminish opportunities. Welcome the challenge!” And that is where I leave you, dear readers. Stay tuned for next month’s blog and explore the world of yet another exciting career!      

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