3. Identity, Disclosure, and Representation in the Arts

Dance and Disability

What needs to be discussed in the dance community is how can we develope choreography that doesn't always have to be simple or highlighting a disability? I am currently training at Santa Monica College and while I am getting the best training with amazing dance instructors who aren't afraid to challenge me I find myself at a loss when I am not selected for challenging dance pieces. Now I understand that rejection is often found in the dance world, but my situation is that I am usually selected to be in one dance piece and it's simple movements that I am doing in that choreography. Psychologically that's very disheartening to me as an artist because I know what I am capable of. I showcase it in my classes. But when it come to learning choreography to perform, I find that I am being limited by what the choreographers think I can do. It's frustrating because I feel more of a prop than an actual dancer.

I recently did a speech about this issue for an event at my school, I discussed my issues and how we can change that. I feel that people don't see disability as a culture. Because of that misunderstanding I feel that it limits artists to include us. I feel that choreographers are afraid to use me as a dancer because I stand out. Now I stand out because of my disability but I have choreographed a dance piece before that had nothing to do with my disability, it was about war and death. The audience got the message, in fact it moved people because it was choreographed to that theme without having to worry about if my disability will take away from the message I was trying to convey. I feel that if disabled dancers are given more roles in dance pieces we can create something new and meaningful. If we keep having dances that only highlight a disability or including them with simple choreography, how can we move forward? I feel that when some schools include me in their showcase they are just trying to meet the standard of the law to have diversity and inclusion, not necessarily seeing the artistic capability that we have. I can take the easy route and choreograph for myself, but sometimes as artist it is important to go outside and find different perspectives to gain experience. I'm working hard at my craft but how can I grow as an artist if I am not being challenged.

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Idea No. 56