Get Your Dance On

First, a note on how I curate content for this series: I specifically look for videos of reasonably good production quality, which rules a lot of things out. The reason that I do this is that I’d rather not trigger vomiting, seizures, or other adverse reactions to the videos posted here. I’m particularly concerned about videos that are really shaky, have sudden changes in volume, or have flashy things; unfortunately, a lot of the videos of disabled dancers I find are shot with handheld cameras which wobble all over the place or have weird background sound going on, so even though the piece is amazing, I can’t use it. It takes me a while to hunt things down and rule out candidates which are unsuitable and, yes, I always appreciate recommendations!

Reader Mo passed along this lovely piece:

The video opens with a bunch of apparently nondisabled people practicing in a ballet studio. The camera cuts to the outside, where we see an amputee roll up in a wheelchair. He looks in on the dancers, swings out of his chair, and goes into the studio, where he starts dancing with the dancers and then performs a splendid pas de deux (duet) with one of the women. The clip is from ‘The Cost of Living’ (2003).

Reader Janet brought up the question of gendering in some integrated dance pieces, asking specifically about wheelchair dancing with a woman in the chair, which led me to hunt down this video:

This piece, an excerpt from “the beauty that was mine, through the middle, without stopping” choreographed by Joe Goode (2007), is performed by AXIS, an integrated dance company based in Oakland. It’s a modern piece with a mixture of a variety of bodies.

A very short clip from ‘Spoke’, by the Touch Compass Dance Trust in New Zealand:

Finally, a short piece on cheerleaders at the Maryland School for the Deaf:

I happen to be a huge fan of cheer, so I thought I’d end on a high note!

About s.e. smith

s.e. smith is a recalcitrant, grumpy person with disabilities who enjoys riling people up, talking about language, tearing apart poor science reporting, and chasing cats around the house with squeaky mice in hand. Ou personal website can be found at this ain't livin'.

6 thoughts on “Get Your Dance On

  1. Thank you so much for posting these videos – I love them! Last year the Dutch champion wheelchair dancing auditioned for our version of So You Think You Can Dance but she didn’t make it past the audition rounds (“for obvious reasons,” the jury said). Sadly I can’t find any videos of the audition.

    I did find a few other videos of female wheelchair dancers, most of them Dutch. I fear they might not meet all your criteria, though.

    Ooh, these are amazing too:

  2. *delurks* I know the guy in the DV8 piece, David Toole. I really recommend people find/watch the whole film, it’s brilliant. *relurks*

  3. Thanks for these! I watch these with my nearly four year old who loves dance and it’s great for her to be able to see many bodies in action rather than the narrow definitions of “dancer” commonly presented to us.

  4. I love love love that this is a recurrent feature. I love dancing, and I’ve been afraid that my chronic pain and wonky balance would keep me from it… it’s very freeing to see people with diverse bodies and minds dancing, because it means maybe I can too.

    The pas de deux was gorgeous and organic feeling – just smooth and elegant. Some parts of the AXIS piece made me think of contact-improv, with the chairs accepted as extensions of the bodies of the users, which is really exciting to me. I love contact improv and I love seeing people find ways to use it that don’t require one to fit in the “ideal dancer” mold.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I work for AXIS Dance Company, and loved seeing that you posted our video.
    @ Kao you are right. A lot of AXIS work comes from contact improv. Many of our rehearsal and new creation of work starts with contact improvisation as a starting point. We believe that the disabled and non disabled dancers really need each other to create this work: without either one of them we couldn’t make it.
    There are some more really great clips on YouTube if you like to see them.

    If anyone has questions about the work we do or wants to know more about our summer intensive. Feel free to email me.

    Ps @ Corinne: I’m Dutch, thanks for posting those.

  6. Truly, go check out their other work on YouTube, folks, it is amazing, and I am planning on trying to schedule my next trip to the City for a date when I know AXIS is performing because I’d really like to see it in person.

Comments are closed.