Lisa Bufano: Dancer/Shapeshifter

“I’m a shapeshifter… I explore the different forms my body can take using different mediums.” – Lisa Bufano. Photo by Gerhard Aba.

Lisa Bufano is a performance artist whose work incorporates elements of doll-making, animation, and dance. Bufano was a competitive gymnast as a child and a go-go dancer in college before she lost her lower legs and all her fingers due to a staphylococcus bacterial infection at the age of 21. Shortly after this occurred, Bufano went on to study stop-motion animation and sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Bufano’s performances often involve the use of prosthetics and props, and, according to Wikipedia, she lists among her inspirations “medical drawings, historical wax models and dolls, and optical toys; flip dolls and paper dolls; the structural aspects of Japanese jointed dolls, Hans Bellmer’s doll work, Louise Bourgeois’ cell installations, and the animation of Jan Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers.”

Bufano is now working on what may be her most ambitious project yet: a routine using aerial hoop. Bufano is developing a lyra – a steel hoop suspended from the ceiling – designed to accomodate her limited grip. Bufano is currently doing strength conditioning and discovering the movement, holds and momentum of working with lyra:

Below is a clip from her recent performance “One Breath is an Ocean for a Wooden Heart,” a duet with dancer Sonsheree Giles on stilts. Bufano describes the piece as “an unusual modern dance duet for a disabled dancer and an able-bodied dancer that is informed by the relationship between physical transformation and identity.” [via riotclitshave]

12 Responses to “Lisa Bufano: Dancer/Shapeshifter”

  1. Louise Says:

    Oh, thank you. Thank you for this post. I love it.

  2. Caroline Says:


  3. Katrina Galore Says:

    Small world! Lisa Bufano has performed w/ the Empire S.N.A.F.U. Restoration Project (as seen at the Black & White & Red All Over Ball).

    Four Legs Good – Lisa Bufano at the Empire S.N.A.F.U. Installation

  4. Emily B. Says:

    Lisa’s work is wondrous and captivating! <3

  5. Matthew Borgatti Says:

    I so want to design limb extensions for her. The table leg prostheses are brilliant.

  6. buffalo folsom Says:


  7. mizzcorrie Says:

    brave lady!!!!

  8. Katt Hernandez Says:

    Hi Lisa!
    katrina posted this on facebook and i reposted- amazing continuing work! right on. . . hope you are getting lots of good opportunities to perform and show work and so on- greetings from Svergie- maybe someday i cn bring you here if i learn the system well enuf- workin on it! ;)


  9. Sveta Says:

    Wow!! Amazing work!

  10. stonexrose Says:

    Looks surprisingly similar to Tokyo Gore Police, just without the swords for arms and legs.

  11. » Lisa Bufano and Sonsheree Giles – a performance at YBCA Audrey Penven Says:

    […] learned about Lisa Bufano through Coilhouse’s blog post about her a year ago. The first photograph in that post was enough to convince me that this is a performer I […]

  12. Lisa Bufano: Dancer/Shapeshifter Says:

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