Accidental leaders

Inclusion, career pathways, and autonomy among dancers with disabilities

Authored by: Sarah Whatley

The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture, and Media

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9780815368410
eBook ISBN: 9781351254687
Adobe ISBN:


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Dance is an art form where the body is always on show, always on display. Dancers with different physicalities are therefore always performing their disability (Garland-Thomson 2009). For dancers with other kinds of impairments, whether sensory, cognitive, or a condition that is apparently invisible – such as chronic illness – disability can be something that each dancer will relate to differently. For some, identifying as a dancer with a disability can be important, whilst for others they prefer to eschew a disability identity. For those with invisible disabilities, the artist can find herself in a paradox whereby she wants to transmit something of her condition as it can determine how the choreography takes shape (whether or not ‘disability’ is subject matter) whilst not wanting to be viewed as anything other than a professional artist on her own terms and in her own right.

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