Georgetown’s Disability Cultural Initiative on March 15 hosted “ACDC: Art Celebrating Disability Culture” (ACDC), a performance showcase that celebrated disability through students’ song and dance.
Amy Kenny, the associate director of the Disability Cultural Initiative (DCI), and students involved with the DCI produced ACDC, which showcased a wide range of music, poetry, spoken word and original compositions. The event aimed to elevate disability culture and community on campus through performance.
Libbie Rifkin, the founding director of Georgetown’s program in disability studies, said recognizing and celebrating disability is rare, given the stigma surrounding the term, and even more unusual in ultra-competitive and prestigious spaces such as Georgetown.
“Those are not elements that people often associate with being an elite institution. We don’t want to foreground our vulnerability, or you know, our struggles” Rifkin told The Hoya. “And what I think disability culture and disability justice enables is the creation of these kinds of spaces which are such important components.”
Rifkin said hosting ACDC in Riggs Library made the event especially meaningful.
“I thought it was an interesting choice to have it take place in Riggs Library, one of the most sort of high academic spaces on campus, a hallowed space, a space that’s associated with Georgetown’s elite university status,” Rifkin said. “And what the folks in the event did was really transform that space into a place of vulnerability and humanity.”
Kenny started the event with a speech about the importance of uplifting disabled voices and embracing people from all walks of life, followed by 12 acts of performance with emceeing by Ollie Henry (CAS ’24).
Dane Tedder (CAS ’24), one of the performers, said he felt the positive energy of disability celebration throughout the process of putting ACDC together.
“I think the thing that resonated with me most was the air of kindness and acceptance for different ways of being and creating that Dr. Kenny, the MC Ollie Henry, and everyone else involved in planning made sure to infuse into the night and the process leading up to it,” Tedder wrote to The Hoya.
Shreya Dudeja (SOH ’25) performed at the event and served as one of ACDC’s primary event planners alongside Kenny. Dudeja said ACDC helped her bring together an intersection of her personal identities and engage in creative self-expression.
(Full disclosure: Shreya Dudeja is a staff writer at The Hoya.)
“ACDC was extremely meaningful for me personally because I got to embrace so many of my identities in one space,” Dudeja wrote to The Hoya.
“I had the opportunity to be a musician, perform a South Asian piece, and demonstrate pride in my identity as a disabled person,” Dudeja wrote. “All performers took comfort in being vulnerable together, and I think it’s safe to say that we were all very proud of each other.”
Dudeja also said that she feels grateful for everyone who came out to support the performers and the DCI.
“The event exceeded my expectations, and I had really high expectations,” Dudeja wrote. “The turnout was great, the audience was enthusiastic and supportive, and the people who performed were all so wonderful to talk to. The event was definitely the highlight of my semester thus far.”
Dani Nisbet (CAS ’26) played the darbuka at the event, a goblet-shaped drum commonly used in traditional Egyptian music.
Nisbet said ACDC inspired him to continue his involvement with the DCI in the future. .
“I hope this event is a testament for all people to see the Disability Culture Initiative as a growing organization,” Nisbet wrote to The Hoya. “Anyone searching for community will find the group welcoming, and am thrilled to have met all the other students and faculty that helped bring this event to fruition.”
Dudeja said the transformation of disability into artistic performance was empowering for everyone involved with ACDC.
“I hope ACDC and events similar to this demonstrate how much pride there is in disability culture,” Dudeja said. “I hope people see that disability is not this idea of pain and struggle, and it is an identity that is celebrated.”
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