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Hip Hop Dancer Bill Shannon Performs in Anancon

(The Verge)  – Not many people have the courage or skill to perform dance routines in front of a large audience, but Bill Shannon is a unique and talented exception. On October 24, 2013 this world-renowned hip hop dancer performed  in Anacon Hall. Shannon was born with a hip deformity and performs all of his dances on crutches. In addition to performing, he presented videos of his work, and discussed his life and what lead him to this point.
Heather Kelly, Assistant Director of Student Activities for Multicultural and Diversity Initiatives, was the person responsible for bringing  Shannon to Monmouth. “I saw Bill listed on other college sites so I watched some videos online and thought he looked great,” Kelly said.  “I sent the videos to some professors and brought it in to the Committee for Disability Awareness Month. Everyone agreed he would be great, so I called his agent to see if we could make timing and money work in our favor.”
Kelly believes events like this are important for Monmouth students to attend.“I think this is an amazing opportunity for Monmouth students to see how the design of physical spaces limits access to many (those with crutches, strollers, etc.),” she said.  “But also how we design a social space that defines and limits who we all can be.” Kelly mentions that Bill does what he calls “performance art,”  which means “he looks at the crowd’s creation of disability, the weight of empathy, and much more,” Kelly added. She believes that his performance tells society  about the world we live in and how we react to one another.
Shannon was paid to perform at Monmouth, according to the Student Government Association. “What is great about Bill and many artists like him is that he understands that not all schools have the same budgets,” she said.  “The Disability Awareness Committee actually doesn’t have a budget, which is why you see so many sponsors on our poster.”  Kelly also mentioned how different clubs and departments sponsor programs,We ask different student groups and departments if they would like to co-sponsor an event like this. She added that he adjusted his price understanding the circumstance.
Aaron Furgason, professor of communication with a concentration in radio, currently teaches an audience studies course that is centered on hip hop culture.  “Any event that highlights diversity and a new way to see the world through someone else’s eyes is an important event that all Monmouth students should attend,”
Senior health studies major Samantha Conoscenti attended the Bill Shannon event. “I have always been a dancer and I thought this event would be exciting to attend,” she said.  “I have never seen anything like it…” Conoscenti is interested in dance and looked forward to this event.

Monmouth students meet Bill Shannon after his performance. Photo Credit: Nicole Shapiro

Senior Ben Sutton also attended for the event. “I was still excited to see what Bill Shannon can do,” he said. “I’ve heard that he was pretty amazing and  I was sure I wouldn’t be disappointed.” Sutton also has a connection to what Shannon presented. “My younger cousin was born with a similar deformity and in his young age, he is having trouble doing things on his own and seeing a bright side to his condition. Someone like Bill Shannon can be a role model for my cousin and show him that people with disabilities are capable of doing something great and interesting with their lives,” Sutton said.
Shannon’s performance was not only fun and exciting, but also educational and informative.  Kelly truly believes that Shannon’s performance art is a great way to dive into the way that our society empathizes and reacts. Shannon has made a lot of exceptions in order to perform for the students at Monmouth so he is obviously very passionate about expressing his work.  “Bill Shannon can do moves on crutches that no one else in the world can do,” Kelly said.
Click here to view a video of Bill Shannon posted by CNN.