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An exchange about creative practices and/around the experience of dis/ability in arts and dance : Alexandra Baybutt & Mira Hirtz

Mira Hirtz: Rehearsal, photo Michail Rybakov (2016)

You are invited to participate in this free workshop exchange event as a member of our  teachers pool, as an MA/MFA alumnus, ambassador or facilitator in another area of artistic work.

This workshop exchange will take place at University College London and focuses on and questions the concept and practice of inclusion, and invites you to share your own practices and experiences. Through thinking and moving together, the workshop explores what factors condition how dance/somatic/arts education, research and performance are engaged with and experienced from your perspectives of artist-facilitators in a range of settings.

As points of departure, we will share some different guidelines from research in dance and visual art about working inclusively that address factors such as assumptions, physical barriers and sensibility. Our discussion will relate to the ways in which inclusion is addressed and practiced in studios and classrooms for both participants and the facilitator/co-facilitators. This might refer to how translations of movement are invited and framed, what methods might be used for participant’s introductions without forcing disclosures, how to plan for unanticipated circumstances, and how a temporary group might be supported to be co-responsible. We are particularly curious about the creative potential in working inclusively and how it can build a work-ethos that can be beneficial to facilitation and artistic work in general. How can we acknowledge that language can help and fail, and how do we create spaces that are rigorous and accessible?

With this we refer to some debates and discussions on inclusive practices in dance that recognise the multiple ways in which contexts of education and performance have been and continue to be challenged and expanded (see for example, Panagiotara, 2019: 81; Whatley, 2019: 323; Curtis, 2017). Canadian sociologist and disability scholar Tanya Titchkosky argues for an understanding of access and inclusion as a complex form of perception that organises socio-political relations between people in a social space (2011). Like somatic and creative processes, Titchkosky elevates questioning perception and expanding awareness in order to consider what already exists and what else there could be in a horizon of possibility.

We recognise feelings will arise and require care. Learning how to be more inclusive requires recognising blind spots, bias and errors, and we approach this in the spirit of growth and developing perception. For example, small but significant strategies of overcoming gulfs in communication and perception  include asking questions of what someone needs, and if mistakes are made, stating ‘sorry, let me try that again’. We hope to better understand the needs and interests of artist-facilitators that may inform future trainings and workshops ID might be able to offer.


Curtis, J. (2017) ‘Dancing the Non/Fictional Body’ in Nakajima and Brandstetter (eds) The Aging Body in Dance: A cross-cultural perspective. Taylor and Francis.

Panagiotara, B. (2019) Dance and Disability: A research on inclusive dance education and training in Greece, Netherlands, Sweden and UK. iDance: Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union publication.

Titchkosky, T. (2011) The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning. University of Toronto Press.

Whatley, S. (2019) ‘Accidental leaders: inclusion, career pathways, and autonomy among dancers with disabilities’ in Hadley and McDonald (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture and Media. 323-335