both the skills and technique learnt during those formative years of training that equip dancers with the necessary tools to achieve levels of flexibility, strength and consistent precision. Therefore, by acquiring this knowledge both groups can exist on a level playing field. This conclusion seemed to me to be adept at the time due to the research clearly indicating a lack of educational opportunities for dancers with disabilities. However, four years on I ask, why would the opportunity to attend a traditional dance institution be of value to someone with a disability when frequently we have been denied the right to do so?
Joshua’s spine and scars marked with ink at Bundanon during Critical Path’s Residency Program Body as Material. Photograph by Julie Vulcan
From a human rights perspective, the idea of inclusion is paramount. Society must change in order to accommodate people with disabilities. But the question is, whose definition of inclusion is being applied? Is it perhaps the pursuit of acceptance into the ‘traditional’ dance structures that limits the creative voice in the first place? And where, and does there exist, the artistic voice and autonomy of the individual? The fundamental notion behind these questions lies in the premise that a body hierarchy does exits, and as such, the culture of disability, or my body, is not favoured in the long term. My creativity is limited to the aesthetic of able bodiness and both the negative and positive aspects of this notion. As an artist that struggles within my own conventional dance training upbringing where I learnt ballet, jazz, contemporary (all styles considered essential in dance), as
Artists speak about their experiences and claiming spaces as artists with disability.