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My story in Sunday’s Chronicle:
“One of the most riveting Bay Area dances of 2008 starred a tiny, fierce redhead and a brawny, burningly intense man in a wheelchair. In Alex Ketley’s duet “To Color Me Different,” Axis Dance Company members Sonsheree Giles and Rodney Bell toss themselves into a torrent of volatile intimacy. Giles flips herself over Bell’s shoulders and across the stage; Bell throws the wheelchair, tightly lashed to his immobile legs, to the floor and rolls upright again, in full command of his essentially three-limbed physicality.
No doubt part of the fascination of the piece comes from seeing an unconventional body fearlessly attempting unexpected things. But watching “To Color Me Different” at various local dance festivals this summer, there was no separating the power of Bell’s physical determination from his passionate connection with Giles.
This is not a duet about being disabled; it’s about the perils of attraction and trust. And it’s being danced again next weekend in Oakland as part of a larger Ketley piece, “Vessel,” which will receive its world premiere during Axis Dance Company’s 20th anniversary home season.
Hard to believe, but true: Oakland’s Axis has been pushing dance combining performers with and without disabilities into the realm of great risk-taking art for two decades. ”