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 dancers with disabilities. Spearheaded by Emmaly Wiederholt (founder/editor of Stance on Dance) and Silva Laukkanen (mixed abilities educator and podcaster) with guidance from Alice Sheppard (director of Kinetic Light) and illustrations by Liz Brent, the team is compiling interviews with various dancers 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 makes art truly inspirational, what makes technique useful and beautiful, what assumptions are commonly made about dancers’ bodies, and what a dance world that acknowledges, embraces and celebrates having 25 percent of its population have a disability might look like.
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.