Friday, April 25, 2014

Portland Sisters Dance, Soar

If you're in on the local performing arts scene, you may have heard of the stunning dance duo comprised of sisters Kiera Brinkley and Uriah Boyd. “Soar”, a documentary about their lives is currently in the making, but it's not just a documentary about Kiera and Uriah as dancers; it is a look into dance, sisterhood, and disability.

When Kiera, now 20 years old, was just two, she had most of each arm and leg amputated to prevent the spread of a bacterial infection. This was one month after her sister was born. Both girls were drawn to dance when they were young, and each have had to overcome very different challenges to get where they are now.

As an elementary schooler, kids used to gather around Kiera as she jumped rope. When she got to middle school, a dance teacher noticed her moving in her chair to music and persuaded her to dance with her peers on the floor. She learned routines at Da Vinci Middle School during the day and would teach them to Uriah at night.

Kiera's dance style is fluid and easy in spite of her shortened limbs, and she has gained quite a bit of attention for it. But Uriah moves with equal beauty.

“Soar” is about dance and disability, true, but through these elements documentarian Susan Hess Logeais reveals the conflict and affection that sisterhood inevitably proffers.

Younger siblings often live in the shadows of their older counterparts, and Uriah admits that she felt ignored at times:

“I was younger, so everyone knew her first, and she had such a strong presence. I was shy, awkward. I didn't really have that much going for myself.”

But Uriah remains an important part of of Kiera's life and dance career. Kiera is currently a member of Polaris Dance Theatre, a Portland contemporary dance troupe, and when she choreographs, Kiera likes Uriah to be there with her. The two have was Kiera calls “sister telepathy”, which allows Kiera to communicate moves that she may not be able to replicate with her body. Uriah has also been a great motivator for Kiera. When first considering whether or not to join Polaris, Kiera wasn't sure she would be able to keep up. Uriah told her to suck it up. Sister love!

In the documentary, Kiera and Uriah dance a duet that reflects the nature of their sisterhood: it's complicated, but everything somehow fits together in a seamless symbiosis.

Read more about Kiera, Uriah, and their documentary, “Soar”, here.

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