Disability and the Dancing Body: A Symposium on Ownership, Identity and Difference in Dance

Shawn Harmon, Hannah Donaldson, Abbe Brown, Kate Marsh, Mathilde Pavis, Charlotte Waelde, Sarah Whatley, Karen Wood

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The InVisible Difference Project is a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project, which examines the intersection between disability, dance and law. It asks questions surrounding authorship and ownership in dance made and performed by disabled artists, why disabled dance is almost entirely absent from our cultural heritage and how can audiences better view and review disabled dance.1 On 26 November 2014, InVisible Difference hosted its second annual collaborative event, the “Disability and the Dancing Body Symposium”.2 This event, which was open to the public and held at the Siobhan Davies Studios in London, was designed to steer the remainder of our research into areas identified as important by stakeholders in dance.

All tickets to the symposium were taken up in advance and seventy-two participants attended on the day. The event reached 691 people through our social media outlets. The professions and organisations represented at the symposium are shown in Figure 1.3 The geographical dispersion of participants is shown in Figure 2. Both figures demonstrate the demographical diversity of the participants. The symposium proceeded by way of a keynote address from Australia via Skype, two panel presentations followed by discussion, three live dance performances after the lunch break and a final panel and discussion followed by general plenary discussion. The following reports on the symposium itself and analyses the new data it generated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015
EventDisability and the Dancing Body Symposium - Siobhan Davies Studios , London, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Nov 201426 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank Siobhan Davies Studios, which was aptly described by one of our participants as “a Cathedral for contemporary dance”, for hosting the symposium and
assisting us on the day. We would also like to thank the staff at the Centre for Dance Research (C-Dare) at Coventry University for their support during the day. We would also, of course, like to thank the AHRC for its kind support of InVisible Difference.


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