"The Impact of Dancing on a Lawyer" by Abbe Brown

My last couple of posts on this blog (24 May and 27 May 2014) have been about the place of “reasonableness” in law and the extent how this is assessed. I had been thinking of continuing again in this theme, and contract and trade marks had sprung to mind as the next topics. That was until I attended the final sessions of Gathered Together. Although sadly I missed keynotes by Project PI Sarah Whatley and a performance by InVisible Difference team member Caroline Bowditch, the event made me see the InVisible Difference project in a new way – so those other legal fields will have to wait.

Gathered Together was a groundbreaking inclusive Dance Festival held in the Tramway in Glasgow (which many will always think of as the Transport Museum). As I snuck in to the final keynote by Gustavo Fajalkow, I was intrigued to see some very familiar terms on the screen, and being discussed: the place of power and control between stakeholders involved in bringing about a performance; leadership and education; and engagement with people of influence, and gaining the opportunity to influence.

This unexpected feeling of being within my comfort zone disappeared the moment I walked into a dance workshop. I had been delighted to secure the last spot on the session led by Chisato Minamimura (Chisato is also involved in InVisible Difference). Afterwards, I was delighted to have the chance to speak to some of those involved in Indepen-dance, a Glasgow based inclusive dance company.

In the workshop we were a diverse group, including wheelchair users, sign communicators, different levels of dance experience, interpreters, personal assistants, all from different countries. The focus of the workshop was on the group communicating by senses other than hearing, and for example having a movement name, rather than a spoken name. As non verbal links were established, a supportive, insightful and creative group dynamic developed.

This short dance session had more effect on me than any amount of reading, listening, interviewing or viewing performance. Communicating with my body and senses, rather than words, and in an environment where my previous views of abilities and limits were quite irrelevant, made me question all of my attitudes.

It became self evident that the concept of reasonableness is flawed. I am probably too much of a lawyer to abandon the concept entirely and too much of a realist to think that law as a whole would ever move away from it. But the concept of reasonable as a “centre” around which most are based, and others exist around the outer rims and who might if they are lucky receive special attention, is simply wrong – even if as previously discussed in my blog posts, there is some flexibility given to the facts of each case. There should be no mainstream and no special. We are people. All require support. Law – all laws - must deliver this.
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