Discussing Disability in Dance Project

One in four people in the US have a disability that impacts a major part of their life according to a 2018 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What if the dance world reflected that statistic?

Discussing Disability in Dance is a book project seeking to investigate and dismantle the language and stereotypes often used to describe professional dancers with disabilities. Spearheaded by Emmaly Wiederholt (founder/editor of Stance on Dance) and Silva Laukkanen (dance educator and podcaster) with illustrations by Liz Brent-Maldonado, the team is compiling interviews with various professional dance artists with disabilities around the country and world, asking about training, access and press, as well as looking at the state of the field.

We hope this project provides each reader with the opportunity to give some thought as to what assumptions are commonly made about dancers’ bodies, and what a dance world that acknowledges, embraces and celebrates having at least 25 percent of its population have a disability might look like.

The Discussing Disability in Dance book project is a multi-year volunteer effort. We appreciate any and all support as we move toward making this book project a reality. Please consider making a donation.

The Interviewees:

YULIA ARAKELYAN: “It’s Because of Our Unique Bodies That We Are the Amazing Dancers We Are”

Yulia Arakelyan illustration

MARC BREW: “I Claim It: I Am A Disabled Man”Marc Brew illustration
SIDIKI CONDE: “Dance Is About Happiness”Sidiki Conde illustration
CHARLENE CURTISS: “They’re Missing the Best Part”

Charlene Curtiss illustration

KAYLA HAMILTON: “Do I Need To Name It?”

Kayla Hamilton illustration

ANTOINE HUNTER: “I Move My Body and I Communicate”Antoine Hunter illustration
MAIJA KARHUNEN: “I Can Make Space For Myself”

Maija Karhunen illustration

LAUREL LAWSON: “We’re Fighting for Artistic Acceptance”Laurel Lawson illustration
KITTY LUNN: “I’m Waiting for the World to Catch Up with Me”Kitty Lunn illustration
TOBY MACNUTT: “It’s Both And”Toby MacNutt illustration
MARK TRAVIS RIVERA: “I’m Interested in the Nuances of Multi-Identity”Mark Travis Rivera illustration
EVAN RUGGIERO: “I’m Just Another Hustling Artist”Evan Ruggiero illustration
HANNAH SAMPSON: “How We Respect and Treat Each Other”Hannah Sampson illustration
BILL SHANNON: “Dance is Space, Time, Light, and The Human Condition”Bill Shannon illustration
ALICE SHEPPARD: “I Want to Build a Network of Legacy”Alice Sheppard illustration
ELIZABETH WINKELAAR: “We’re Blowing Disability Out of the Water”Elizabeth Winkelaar illustration
Person in wheelchair, hand reaching up

Image description: A figure drawn from the back is sitting in a wheelchair. One hand reaches down to the side of the chair where their hand connects with a blue pool. The other hand reaches up into the air with an open, extended palm. A red line runs from one hand through their back to the other. The figure’s face is lifted upward toward the extended palm.