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ISSN: 2183-2803

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Differences in Itself: Redefining Disability through Dance

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Abstract:  This paper brings together two different terms: dance and disability. This encounter between dance and disability might be seen as an unusual, even conflicting, one since dance is traditionally dominated by aesthetic virtuosity and perfect, idealized bodies which are under optimized bodily control. However, recently there has been a growing desire within dance communities and professional dance companies to challenge binary thinking (beautiful-ugly, perfect-imperfect, valid-invalid, success-failure) by incorporating an aesthetic of difference. The traditional focus of dance on appearance (shape, technique, virtuosity) is replaced by a focus on how movement is connected to a sense of self. This notion of the subjective body not only applies to the dancer's body but also to disabled bodies. Instead of thinking of a body as a thing, an object (Körper) that is defined by its physical appearance, dance is more and more seduced by the body as we sense it, feel it and live it (Leib). This conceptual shift in dance is illustrated by a theoretical analysis of The Cost of Living, a dance film produced by DV8.

Keywords:  dance; difference in itself; disability; Körper; Leib; lived body; lived experience



© Carolien Hermans. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.