Bill Shannon of Crutch
Bill Shannon of Crutch
Today on Your Beautiful Day on The Gratitude Radio Network, Jenn MOG and Neil Haley will interview Bill Shannon of Crutch.
CRUTCH, co-director/producers Sachi Cunningham and Chandler Evans’ sprawling, exhaustive chronicle of performance/visual artist and action sports athlete Bill Shannon’s life and work across myriad artistic and athletic disciplines, will have its world premiere in November at DOC NYC, the United States’ premier documentary film festival. Far more than a chronological survey of one person’s life and achievements, CRUTCH does so much more: the film shatters conventional notions of disability; it challenges the viewers to abandon conventional ideas of what “ability” means, and crosses over from artistry—in skate and dance and performance art—to education on issues of key cultural and political relevance.
For the subject of a film decades in the making, Shannon’s life is remarkably well-documented. Early in his childhood in Nashville, TN, he was diagnosed with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, a degenerative condition of the hip that affects one in 20,000 children aged 3-12 years; it severely degrades the smooth ball of the hip inside the pelvic joint (which Shannon describes in his own animations in the film).
Breaking free of his disability but never losing sight of it, Shannon began to create skate tricks and dance moves, first as recreation and transportation but ultimately as his own unique art forms. He rose to the pantheon of artistic physical movement, Cirque du Soleil, who commissioned him to choreograph two works in their production Varekai back in 2003. “Bill Shannon defies gravity as he floats just above the ground, sweeping forward in long, smooth strides on titanium crutches. He spins, twirls, then freezes, looking like an oddly beautiful sculpture of flesh and metal. His gliding mobility seems almost magical,” wrote Sally Sommer in the New York Times. “Bill comes from a different world, does not move like I see before — not sport, not acrobatic, not nothing I see before,” said fellow Cirque performer Vladimir Ignatenkov. He’s since developed collaborative and one-man shows year-on-year, and still makes time to teach and perform at a Legg-Calvé-Perthes camp in Florida.