Careers in the Arts Toolkit Artist Profile: Jerron Herman

Jerron Herman, a black man in his thirties with short blonde hair, dark brown eyes and full beard, smiles at the camera from inside an ornate room, wearing green tank and black tights while leaning on the back of a chair.

Photo by Adrian McCourt

Dancer, Writer, Speaker

New York, NY

Jerron Herman is a multifaceted arts maker and contributor whose work spans the areas of consultation, development, performance, and writing in the arts and culture sector. When Herman was diagnosed with hemiplegia cerebral palsy at the age of three months, doctors believed he would never be able to clothe or feed himself. He not only proved them wrong, he went on to become a professional dancer.

Herman was studying to be a playwright when, during his sophomore year of college, he found himself participating in a dance intensive hosted by choreographer Sean Curran. Three days later, he was invited to audition for the Heidi Latsky Dance company. Within a year, he was in a revival of GIMP at Lincoln Center Out of Doors and developing works as a principal member of the company. “Dance has relieved me of a stereotype that has been placed on people with disabilities,” he said.

Creatively analytic, Herman loves to identify patterns in trends and devise new pathways in various forms of art, and he believes that people with disabilities need pathways for sustainability in the professional arts field. “In the physical sense, we need alternative and varied ways to train and maintain our bodies, different from wholesale options from typical studios and the medical field,” he said. “In this way of opportunity, we need gatekeepers with robust literacy in the field. Although equality of outcome is nice, people with disabilities ultimately want equality of opportunity—nothing barring them from auditioning, presenting, or performing.”

Herman credits his first-year playwriting professor with imparting some crucial wisdom: the idea that his voice carried weight, even if he was telling a familiar story. “You must believe you have something to say or contribute,” he said.

His advice to youth with disabilities is to be obsessed. “You must be unrelenting in your pursuit. People with disabilities hold another superpower—adaptation. We're constantly adapting to our environments, and that enables us to be nimble thinkers and agile creators.”

He encourages people with disabilities to “transfer and translate your adoption in clothing, walking, and care to your art. Begin to integrate access into your work now, not as an afterthought, but integral to what you're saying.”