Introduction Dr Laura Osweiler
Critical Dialogues #7 ‘Claiming Spaces – Choreographers with Disabilities Redefining Dance’ was my first project as Critical Dialogues’ copy editor. Through working with that edition’s guest editor, Sarah-Vyne Vassallo, I had the honour of engaging with some remarkable artists with disability and their collaborators. Since my recent move to Australia, I have engaged with others at events such as Accessible Arts’ Arts Activated Conference, the Catalyst Dance residency hosted at the Drill Hall last year, Force Majeure and Dance Integrated Australia collaboration ‘Off the Record’ at Carriageworks and just by talking about the last edition of Critical Dialogues. Through these exchanges, Critical Path’s team saw very quickly how the journal was meeting the needs of artists with disabilities and knew we needed to produce volume #7.2. With this collection I took a ‘danceaturgical’ approach; offering choreographers space to think, reflect and create. The artists and I had written and verbal conversations in order to facilitate unpacking and contextualising their choreographic aims. I wanted to gain an understanding of how and why each artist approaches choreography and open that up to readers. Overall questions in this process included: - What questions and areas are you exploring and creating? - What are the practical actions, tasks, tools you employ to investigate your questions and topics? - How and why do you make one choice over another? Additionally, my aim was to have at least a glimpse into how their identities and histories situate and support personal questions, focuses and making of works. Each writer in the second edition of this volume (CD#7) demonstrates how artists create work out of the material they live, and how they foster new and unique choreographic approaches. Their actions as artists cut through and around different spaces – social, political, artistic. The work foregrounds tensions, and questions the positions and actions, of artists with disabilities in ‘mainstream’ dance and society. By developing and inhabiting fringe areas and new centres (venues, content, technique) they develop spaces to work and thrive. These artists embody changing perspectives and perceptions of what dance is, who is a dancer, which techniques are acceptable and who can answer these questions. Each of them claims, reclaims, forms and opens spaces to create change. Dr Laura Osweiler Bio
Dr Laura (Amara) Osweiler is the General Manager at Critical Path. She has a PhD in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside. For almost twenty years, Laura has been an independent producer in the United States and now Sydney. Her work include concerts, workshops, and conventions such as the Austin
Artists speak about their experiences and claiming spaces as artists with disability.