Claire Cunningham is a performer and creator of multi-disciplinary performance based in Scotland. Originally a classically trained singer, she began to work in dance in 2005 after working with US choreographer Jess Curtis. Curtis kindled Cunningham's curiosity in her own potential for movement, which led instinctively into the desire to make her own work. A self-identifying disabled artist, Cunningham's work is often rooted in the study and use/misuse of her crutches, and the exploration of the potentiality of her own specific physicality, with a conscious rejection of traditional dance techniques (developed for non-disabled bodies) or the attempt to move with the pretense of a body or aesthetic other than her own.
She aims within her work to find ever-increasing levels of honesty – both as a live performer and in the base material. It is often biographical, exploring deep personal questions, but with wide-ranging and indeed universal resonances. She is interested in non-normative bodies and keen to highlight the enrichment to be gained in contemporary performance, especially dance, by embracing this. By extension, she is also driven to make work that will attract those often disenfranchised from watching contemporary dance due to the conventional body aesthetics.
Inspired by the work of medieval Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, and in particular the role of beggars/cripples in his work, Give Me a Reason to Live is a solo perrfomance by Claire Cunningham, and is a study in the notion and provocation of empathy. A live memorial to the 700,000 disabled and mentally ill victims of the Nazi Aktion T4 euthanasia programme, and disabled victims of the current UK government’s so-called "welfare reform", Give me a reason to live is a test of body and of faith.
Cunningham can offer masterclasses in movement, for disabled and non-disabled individuals (with some experience in movement), discussion events/post-show talks and presentations around her work or the themes within it, or relating to work as a disabled artist or integrated practice.
“If this piece shimmers with the fantastical feel of a fairytale, it is rooted (with unwavering honesty) in Claire Cunningham's own thoughts and everyday life”
The Herald reviewing Menage a Trois
“This fearless, fierce and beautiful show... not many other artists in any discipline would put their lives on the line quite so frankly as Cunningham does... But then, not many people have the set of skills she has” ****
The Times reviewing Menage a Trois
“feisty, innovative, radical and witty... This is strong visionary work.... It's hugely, generously entertaining too... full of joy, optimism and sassy spirit”
The Herald reviewing ME (Mobile/Evolution)
“Her love of movement is palpable and communicated in no uncertain terms to the audience. The closing scene... is one of the most joyous and moving things I’ve ever seen” ****
The Scotsman reviewing ME (Mobile/Evolution)