Same As Sister - Upstairs, In Our Bedroom

Image Credit: Emma Joy

Join performance collective, Same As Sister (S.A.S.)/Briana Brown-Tipley + Hilary Brown-Istrefi and York University’s 3Dance research team – VR advisor Lora Appel & disability arts advisor Rachel da Silveira Gorman, for an open conversation and demonstration about their project in development, Upstairs, In Our Bedroom

Upstairs, In Our Bedroom is an interdisciplinary performance that places Same As Sister’s experiences as female identical twins of color next to the real-life story of outsider authors June & Jennifer Gibbons (a.k.a. The Silent Twins). Utilizing dance, text, mobile VR technology, and puppetry they will reveal the dual struggles to be recognized as individuals within a pairing and within a racist and patriarchal society.


Same As Sister (S.A.S.) is a NYC and Toronto-based performance collective led by twin choreographers Briana Brown-Tipley + Hilary Brown-Istrefi. Initiated in 2013 to make experimental narrative performance accessible to a diverse audience through collaborative and interdisciplinary practices, their commissions have been presented at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance (Toronto); Base: Experimental Arts + Space (Seattle); Archaeological Museum of Messenia (Greece); Danspace Project (NYC); Centre d’Art Marnay Art Centre (France); BRIC Arts | Media House (NYC); and New York Live Arts (NYC), among other venues. S.A.S.’s 2022 commission, This is NOT a Remount, was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production (Dance). They were an Alternate and Finalist for the Jerome Foundation’s 2021-22 and 2019-20 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship (Dance), and are the recipients of a Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ 2022 and 2017 Emergency Grant (Dance); Queens Council on the Arts’ 2020 Queens Arts Fund New Work Grant (Multi-Discipline); and a New York Foundation for the Arts’ 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship (Choreography). Same As Sister is currently a commissioned resident artist of the 2023 HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP) in NYC. 

Lora Appel is an Associate Professor of Health Informatics at the Faculty of Health at York University; Adjunct Researcher at Michael Garron Hospital; and a Collaborating Scientist at University Health Network, the largest medical research organization in Canada. Lora heads the Prescribing Virtual Reality (VRx) Lab, which designs and conducts studies that introduce and evaluate AR/VR/MR therapeutic interventions for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers in different settings ranging from acute-care hospitals to community care. She has received several grants from the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation to pursue this work in aging and dementia care. More recently her research has expanded into novel uses of VR for other patient populations and clinical conditions, such as those living with epilepsy, specialized dentistry with stroke patients, and low-vision therapy for pediatric oncology patients and seniors with AMD. She is very enthusiastic about creating technological interventions that are preventative, holistic, and tailored to the individual with a special focus on sensory-health. Lora’s love for the arts (as complementary to the sciences) has led her to explore the potential applications of VR in choreography, dance pedagogy, and performance. 

Rachel da Silveira Gorman is an interdisciplinary scholar, choreographer, and curator working across fine arts, humanities, and sciences. Gorman’s current projects focus on disability data justice, AI bias, and machine learning; dance and VR; biochemical mechanisms of health inequity; and aesthetic ideologies of disability and race. Gorman has created 20 dance-theatre, site-specific, and screendance productions, ten of which have been remounted or rescreened at festivals. Critic Paula Citron called Waking the Living “a disturbing and riveting reality check,” and Passing Dark a “melancholy journey… of intense sadness.” Gorman served on the editorial committee of Fuse Magazine, and on the curatorial committee at A Space Gallery, where they curated a cycle of four exhibitions on political grieving. Gorman’s writings on ideologies of disability and race have appeared in American Quarterly, thirdspace, and the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. They hold a PhD from the University of Toronto and an MFA from York University. 

Upstairs, In Our Bedroom is being commissioned and developed through the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP), NYC, with additional support from Dancemakers (Toronto). The project was developed in part during a 2022-2023 Plug-N-Play Residency at Toronto Dance Theatre.

Saturday, October 28, 2023