Bill Shannon moves. He twists, floats, spins, hops, and skates. Using a hacked pair of crutches, called rocker bottoms, he swerves through the streets of Pittsburgh with fluidity and flair. An air of 1990s urban street dance still lingers in his performances, which is polished by a clear appreciation of the fine arts. Atop the tools he knows all too well, he appears to defy gravity.
Shannon was born with bilateral hip deformity, a disability that requires him to use crutches. The origin of his unique movement, he told CNN, is rooted in the childhood demands of play and the necessities of navigating everyday life. The Shannon Technique has since drawn the attention of national and international venues, festivals, events, and awards. He now boasts a Newhouse Foundation Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a Foundation for Contemporary Art Award. In 2002, Cirque du Soliel recruited the Nashville native to choreograph an aerial duet and a solo on crutches for the nine year tour of "Varekai."
Dance isn't all he does. Shannon creates 2D, 3D, installation, and video pieces that explore politics, body image, and abstract interpretations of himself. Slated for this year is a documentary exploring his art and life, a novel detailing the Shannon Technique, and the release of modified-rocker bottom crutches paired with a padding system.
“The flat-rocker needs to be available when the book comes out so that people can try out my invented sport,” Shannon says.
As part of the U.S. touring exhibit Human+, the multi-faceted artist will lend his talents on a video installation and performance artifact.
Keep up with Shannon here. That is, if you can.
Get this and more delivered to your home by subscribing to GOOD Magazine at subscribe.good.is. It's just $25 for an annual subscription (more than 20% off the cover price)!