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Jo Bannon

Blind Magic


During the residency Jo will begin research and development towards a new staged work, Blind Magic, a score for two visually disabled / blind performers and one unreliable audio describer. The work will explore the imaginative dance between sleight of hand, deception and dexterity present within magic shows, dance, and the lived experience of visual disability. A tactile, perfunctory, and unbelievable dance between what you see and what you can believe. A complicated and complicit choreography of touch, description, and deception for a sighted and non-sighted audience.

This choreographic work explores the intersection between the embodiment practices present in dance training, the tactile sleight of hand techniques of magic and illusionist acts and the overt and covert strategies (or crip expertise) implemented by visually disabled people navigating the world through senses other than sight.

This performance will also pay attention to conceptual and practical minefields in the practice of audio description, problematizing ideas around interpretation, impartiality, and abstraction. Problematizing the weight of interpretation on contemporary abstract dance, the fragile mystery and misdirection on which magic tricks rely and the paternalistic, highly fallible idea of an omnipotent audio describer.

Playing with notions of humour, underwhelm, trickery, virtuosity, and mundanity, in Blind Magic we:

“Hear an unreliable audio describer hell-bent on narrating the joke and ruining the magic.”

Ask the audience to acclimatise their gaze to the often-overlooked mundane magic trick of navigating without sight. The subtly virtuosic choreography of knowing exactly where you left your mug and how to pull a rabbit out of it.

Watch an unholy trio destroy the traditional magic act, creating a new blind magic where we see through sound, touch, description, in a performance where we can’t believe our eyes and we shouldn’t believe our ears…

Jo Bannon is a UK based artist working in performance, choreography, and live art. Her work is concerned with identity, sensory perception, and human encounter and explores how our physical bodies experience the world around us and how this sensory experience can or cannot be conveyed. Her work is informed by her identity as a disabled woman with albinism and attempts to unpick the ways we look, hear and sense our immediate environment in order to rethink or make unfamiliar these intrinsic human behaviours. Bannon’s work is led by form and so manifests in various mediums including intimate encounters designed for single or small audiences, staged performance, dance, film and installation.

Jo has presented work in the UK, Europe, South America, USA, China, South Korea and Australia including HAU Berlin, The Barbican, IBT Festival, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Itau Cultural Sao Paulo, The Times Museum Guangzhou and the National Theatre. Jo also works as a dramaturg, educator and writer and is a founder member of artist collective Residence. Recent work includes Kitchen Alba (2021), Absent Tense (2020), We Are Fucked (2018), Alba (2015), Dead Line (2013) and Exposure (2011).


Jo Bannon, Stepladder. Photo by Paul Samuel White
Jo Bannon, Stepladder. Photo by Paul Samuel White