DIALOGUE PANEL #2 – “Embodying Disability – Pushing theory: an intersectional approach”

Chair: Yvette Hutchison

Provocation Panellists:

Dr. Gerard Samuel (Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, UCT, SA)

Prof. Hershini Bhana (Departments of AADS and Women and Gender Studies, UT Austin, USA)

Dr. Jessi Parrott (Independent performer, creative and researcher, UK-SA)

Sydney Erlick (University of Illinois Chicago, USA)


Dr Gerard Samuel

Gerard M. Samuel is an Associate Professor: University of Cape Town, Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies and Head of CTDPS Dance Section. He is the Convener: Post Graduate studies in Dance, Editor: South African Dance Journal, and Chair of Confluences a biennial, international dance conference hosted by UCT. His undergraduate teaching currently includes South African Performance Genealogies, and Global Performances Mutations and Migrations courses. His scientific focus area is Contemporary Dance in South Africa and the nexus it offers for reimagining notions of Other and Body. Through Post-colonial and phenomenological readings, he continues to investigate subfields of Dance discourse such as ballet, children’s dance theatre, dance as social healing, and performativity of the archive. 

Prof. Hershini Bhana Young

Hershini Bhana Young is a Professor at UT Austin in the departments of AADS and Women and Gender Studies where she teaches classes on performance, race and sexuality. She is the author of Haunting Capital: Memory, Text and the Black Diasporic Body (UPNE, 2005), Illegible Will: Coercive Spectacles of Labor in South Africa and the Diaspora (Duke UP, 2017) and Falling, Floating, Flickering: Disability and Differential Movement in African Diasporic Performance (NYU, 2023).

Dr. Jessi Parrot

Jessi Parrott (they/them) is a non-binary, queer, disabled and neurodivergent performer, creative and researcher. A wheelchair user with Cerebral Palsy, they completed their PhD (which focussed on disability casting as an employment issue in UK theatre and television) at the University of Warwick in 2019. Since then, they have worked freelance, balancing creative practice with research, training and consultancy projects in the arts. All their work centres on equity and inclusion for marginalised groups. As a (current) Londoner with South African and Canadian heritage who has moved a lot throughout their life, they are somewhat culturally confused – but they are also passionate about understanding, learning from, and platforming a plurality of national and sociopolitical perspectives. As their first introduction to the arts was through the medium of integrated dance workshops as a young child, they are honoured to be part of the dialogues in this colloquium.

Sydney Erlikh

Sydney Erlikh (MSEd) is a doctoral candidate in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago. She studies dance and disability, and her dissertation is a multi-sited ethnography on inclusive dance companies in South Africa and Finland with dancers with intellectual disabilities. She was selected by the Boren Foundation, the Finlandia Foundation, the American Scandinavian Foundation Fellow, and is a Fulbright Scholar for her dissertation research. She was co-awarded a 2019-2020 Schweitzer Fellowship, which lead to the creation of the Inclusive Dance Workshop Series at Access Living in Chicago. She was selected as a SeeChicagoDance Critical Writing Fellow in 2020. In 2021 and 2022, she participated in Harvard Mellon School of Theatre and Performance Studies Research. Sydney serves on the CounterBalance planning committee and NDEO’s dance and disability task force.