Disability and the Dancing Body. By Hannah Donaldson

On Wednesday 26th November 2014 we held our sold out Symposium in the Siobhan Davies Studios, London. The day featured an introductory presentation from Caroline Bowditch who joined us via Skype from Australia, and continued with panels discussing why disabled dance is almost entirely absent from our cultural heritage, the support frameworks the law provides for disabled dance artists and a final panel discussing disability dance and audience engagement. We were very lucky during the day to also see works in progress from Dan Daw, Kate Marsh, Welly O’Brien and Kimberley Harvey.

It’s extremely important to us that we work with the dance community during InVisible Difference and the Symposium was hugely beneficial to assist us in directions for our research, whether we’re asking the right questions just now and which areas should we consider that we haven’t yet looked at. As a team member, rather than an audience member, I was intrigued to see how the audience engaged with the issues we’ve identified to research. Collectively, the team all agree on the areas we’d like to examine. Yet it’s also important that the community we’re working with agree that those areas are worthwhile research areas. This was confirmed during the Symposium by the level of interest during the day and also the enthusiasm from the audience to participate, discuss, debate and engage with each panel and speaker.

It also appears from the event’s feedback that the performances were a welcome break from the intensity of the discussions! Just as having the dance community support our research topics is important, it’s also valuable that we stay linked to the work that we’re examining in our project by showcasing it at our events.

We would like to thank the speakers, panel members, dance artists, the staff at Siobhan Davies Studios, the staff from Coventry University, and all of our delegates for attending the Symposium and we hope to see you at the InVisible Difference conference in 2015.

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