In the 1960s, dance language shifted from the need for the "classical dancerly body" to an expansion of boundaries. The idea that anyone could be a dancer made dance open to a more diverse population. Mixed-abilities dance companies were founded which included people with disabilities (Herman, 2009).
On 17 July, ImPulsTanz, the Vienna International Dance Festival will start, an annual contemporary dance festival that has been taking place in Vienna since 1984. The festival hosts the DanceAbility-Day and offers a month-long DanceAbility Teacher Certification Workshop. DanceAbility was co-founded by Alito Alessi, a "pioneering teacher and choreographer in the fields of contact improvisation, and dance and disability" (via).
"Contact improvisation offers a form of improvisation to everyone, their abilities tailored to their dancing duet by the choices they make. With danceability, Alito Alessi put this idea to work with people with disabilities – any disabilities – and discovered that it works, and it erases the assumed distinction between able/disabled. Looking around, I see that this distinction is used almost everywhere: in language, in education, in government. It is the common assumption, and so becomes the common attitude, the common thing for children to learn, to grow up holding, and eventually, to design and legislate with, as they mature. It is like a toxic cloud hovering around the fact of disability. Toxic? How would assignment into a separate and somehow inferior social status affect you? Cloud? Always in the shadow, in society’s estimation. Danceability has the power to lift this cloud. Using the art of dance, the art of the body, it begins with the facts of the body – the facts of anybody/mind – and slowly, gently, shows the partners in a dance how to find common ground. An event occurs which can only occur with the participation of these two people, an invention which assumes the opposite of what is normally assumed, and which is a path to healing the divisions we find everywhere installed – the normal ‚default’ setting – in our environments, in our minds, in our hearts. Danceability is a kind of healing, not to ’heal’ the disabled, but to heal the able and disabled at once, in one forum. For a time, the separation is dissolved. For our minds, the separation can no longer have unquestioned power over our thinking. For our hearts, a connection is forged between creative partners. Try it. You will be moved." Steve Paxton
- Herman, C.-P. (2009). Danceability's Contribution to Mixed-Abilities Dance, a Survey Analysis. Oregon: MA, via
- photos via and via and via