So, I've been thinking about how to write this for a while. If I should even write it. How to go about it. Its a tricky subject. Dance and disability. I couldn't even decide on a title for this blog. Because I didn't want it to be read wrongly.
While in Berlin I went to watch a performance by company DI Cia. de danca, at the moveberlim Brazilian dance festival.
It mixed dancers from all ranges of physical ability - from a muscular break dancer to a dancer who had an arm deformation, which left him with one arm.
The piece made beautiful use of props, and the cast used them with impressive accuracy, there was not one hiccup through out the whole piece. My favourite was a wheel chair that was dissected, and the bboy climbed through its remaining skeleton.
But it wasn't all harmony and niceness for me. During the piece my mind was busy processing a double edged sword (maybe its because I'm a gemini..always two sides). I believe dance is a powerful tool that can enrich lives and cross barriers. Its its own language that can link all sorts of bodies and brains.
But during the performance I said to myself I don't know how I feel about this. I felt a certain pressure (self applied maybe...) to 'enjoy' it, and when I at one point I thought I don't enjoy watching the less abled dancers I suddenly felt like a terrible person. How could I think that? I should be celebrating the achievement. Am I so superficial that I just want to see super bodies impressing me with their physicality?
I had heard the night before, at the same performance, some of the audience had been reduced to tears by the beauty of the piece. I felt like a cold b*@$h as I didn't feel this rush of emotion at all.
At the end of the performance the bboy came forward with the rest of the troupe to take his bow. Head down he looked all tough and perhaps a little arrogant not to acknowledge the audience. Then I realised he was crying and couldn't look at the audience.
Thats when the ice queen in me melted and I shed a tear. And realised how silly I'd been. Dance is not about what you can or can't do. Its about the process. The opportunities and the feeling. The members of DI Cia. de danca had something to say, and they said it. And said it well. And I know its not been easy for them - their rehearsal space floods when it rains and the lead dancer's mother, the bboy I have been referring to, told him she's rather he was a drug dealer than a dancer.
After the show I saw my friend Tom, and I asked him what he thought. He loved it, and asked me what I thought. 'Mmmmm, I'm not sure what I think of disability and dance' I said. He said 'I don't think you should think. Just feel.'
I hope next time I watch such a performance I can turn my brain off and just feel.