Invitation to Dance

Directed by Christian von Tippelskirch and Simi Linton

Release Year: 2014
Running Time: 86
Color Type: Color
Country: U.S.
Language: English
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Screening Info
Directed by Christian von Tippelskirch and Simi Linton

Invitation to Dance is an eye-opening insider's account of disability in 21st century America. Simi Linton's story forms the narrative backbone of the documentary. The film traces both her personal growth as a disabled woman, and the larger historically significant developments around her over the past 40 years. Simi serves as navigator and tour guide to a world largely unknown, generally isolated, and commonly dismissed.

In 1971, Simi Linton was injured while hitchhiking to Washington to protest the war in Vietnam. Suddenly a young disabled college student, she confronted insidious forms of discrimination she couldn't have imagined before. Over time she joined forces with a vibrant disability community, and realized that political engagement, love, and dance could once again be central to her life.

Rock n' Roll, dancing, and sexuality liberated Simi from the shame she felt as a young disabled woman. Invitation to Dance traces Simi's first reluctant foray onto the dance floor at a party to present day when dance has become a central theme in her social life, activism, and work. Ultimately, the film is a never-before-told coming out story of disabled people staking their claim to "equality, justice, and a place on the dance floor!"

Closed-captioned and described for the visually impaired.

Simi Linton's powerful new memoir, My Body Politic, is available through University of Michigan Press

And, Simi Linton's landmark book about Disability Studies, Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity, is available from NYU Press

Educational Reviews

"All forms of artistic expression from literature and painting to music and filmmaking - seek to influence how people think and feel. Invitation To Dance is no exception and it is compellingly successful. Simi Linton takes us on a very personal journey into the largely invisible world of people with disabilities. Her candid story as an activist, educator and disabled woman inspires us to think about ourselves and our own lives anew. What if I were suddenly disabled? How would my life change? How would people see me? How would I see myself? We also learn from this film that to dance is as natural as breathing. It is an act of freedom and creative expression that is not limited by the outward appearance of one's physical body, but rather by the limitless possibilities of the creative imagination." Leslie Kanes Weisman Professor Emerita of Architecture New Jersey Institute of Technology

"[Invitation to Dance] invites us to see how the movements of people in wheelchairs, people with the rolling gait of cerebral palsy, people with one arm or leg, people with conjoined fingers, crutches, braces, and all manner of adaptive devices challenge the ways the able bodied have defined what counts as dance. As it does so, Invitation to Dance tells a story about movement as a form of self-expression and as the collective public actions of people with disabilities demanding the right to access and inclusion." Rachel Adams, Avidly (LA Times Review of Books)

"This film demonstrates the obstacles to equal access to society that disabled people face, and also the means for breaking through those barriers -- through protest, social consciousness, creativity, and celebration." Rebecca Garden, PhD, SUNY Upstate Medical University

"Invitation to Dance asks you to examine your basic assumptions about how people move through space, and what it means to express yourself through movement. Anyone interested in understanding the breadth of human experience should watch this film." Julia Pinover Kupiec, Senior Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Advocates

"This moving, funny, important documentary takes you on a life-changing journey with its protagonist, the extraordinary activist Simi Linton. Everyone should see this film!" Faye Ginsburg, Director, Center for Media, Culture and History, New York University

"This film inspiringly shows how dancing can be art, fulfillment, rebellion, and fun, all at the same time." Politics Professor Ruth O'Brien, CUNY Graduate Center; book series editor of Heretical Thought (Oxford UP, USA) & The Public Square (Princeton U Press); & Adjunct Affiliated Scholar for the Center for American Progress (CAP).

"The flowing, gracefully sensual space of the Guggenheim's ramps brought to life -- who would look for architectural revelation in a work about disability? Or erotic sex and sensuality? Political moxie? Invitation to Dance is more a challenge than an invitation -- a challenge for me to say: 'Yes, I too could be that courageous. I could dance like that. I could!' David Chapin, Architect, Professor of Environmental Psychology, The City University of New York Graduate Center

"We have all received an Invitation To Dance! Christian von Tippelskirch and Simi Linton's film records how disability activists and thinkers have changed all of our perspectives to access, not just to buildings and spaces, but to living. A brilliant, exciting film about a seminal figure in American life." Sander L. Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences,Professor of Psychiatry, Emory University

"While this uplifting documentary, co-directed by Linton and Christian von Tippelskirch, admirably portrays that political fight in the broadest sense, it also focuses on Linton's own life, becoming a virtual autobiography that emphasizes her indomitable will. Invitation to Dance is at once a solid account of a major social movement, the story of a courageous woman, and a celebration of how people who might have previously been warehoused by society can demonstrate their creativity and drive. Recommended." ★ ★ ★ -F. Swietek, The Video Librarian

Trailer EMB