Petra Kuppers – Dance/USA Artist Fellow

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Image description: Petra Kuppers, a white queer cis woman of size, head tilted, smiling with twinkling eyes, with yellow glasses, shaved head, pink lipstick, purple scarf, polka-dot top, a hand caressing the handlebars of Scootie, her mobility scooter, before an urban building with colored glass windows. Photo by Tamara Wade.

Petra Kuppers


Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), and Bodewatomi (Potawatomi) peoples; Ypsilanti, MI

Petra Kuppers (she/her) is a community performance artist, a disability culture activist, and a wheelchair dancer. She uses social somatics, performance, and speculative writing to engage audiences toward more socially just and enjoyable futures. She has been engaged in community dance and disability culture production since the late 80s and continues to lead workshops internationally. Currently, she runs weekly online disability culture movement classes, Starship Somatics, through Movement Research.
When her chronic pain does not allow outer movement, Kuppers writes. Her third performance poetry collection, Gut Botany (Wayne State University Press, 2020), was named one of the top ten U.S. poetry books of 2020 by the New York Public Library and won the 2022 Creative Book Award by the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. Kuppers also writes speculative fiction and academic books.Her latest is Eco Soma: Joy and Pain in Speculative Performance Encounters (University of Minnesota Press, 2022, open access).

Kuppers was a 2021 Dance Research Fellow at the New York Public Library’s Dance Division, where she created the ongoing Crip/Mad Archive Dances. She is Artistic Director of The Olimpias, an international disability culture collective, and co-creates Turtle Disco, a somatic writing studio, with her wife, poet and dancer Stephanie Heit, from their home on Three Fires Confederacy Territory, colonially known as Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Kuppers is the Anita Gonzalez Collegiate Professor of Performance Studies and Disability Culture at the University of Michigan, and an adviser on the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College.

For more information about Petra Kuppers: 

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Image description: Hettie Barnhill, a queer Black woman with curly hair, Petra Kuppers, a queer white woman of size with a shaved head; and a young community participant, all finding sanctuary in color, based on Vincent van Gogh’s Asylum Garden painting, as part of a Crip/Mad Archive Dance. All three people reach toward the yellow battery of Petra’s disability scooter. Behind them, the fake grass of an installation extends toward the gray building and tall windows of Lincoln Center. Photo by Kate Freer.
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