Physically Integrated Dance
progress in acceptance of people with disabilities in our society, it
is still uncommon to see people with and without disabilities
and performing as equals. Integrated dance gives people who are disabled
the all-too-rare opportunity to see something of themselves and their
culture reflected in dance. At the same time, nondisabled people are given
the opportunity to view an exciting new dance form that both defies and
traditional and often limited definition of "dance" and "dancer."
AXIS Dance Company, based in Oakland, CA, is one of the few companies
in the forefront of paving the way for this powerful and inclusive
dance form. This work is expanding dance to include an entire population,
indeed a culture, which has historically been left out of this highly
expressive art form. In so doing, a new audience for dance is growing.
The recent work in physically integrated dance, by AXIS and other companies around the U.S. and Europe, has earned critical praise
in both the arts and disability communities internationally, and has
also earned wide recognition in the health and education fields for
its pioneering nature. In addition to artistic
excellence, the social and cultural value that is imbued in the work
is integral to the importance of the form.
Words That Empower
Positive language empowers. When speaking about people with disabilities,
it is important to put people first. Catch-all phrases like 'the blind,'
'the deaf,' or 'the disabled,' do not reflect the individuality, equality,
or dignity of people with disabilities. Here are some examples of positive
and negative phrases. Note that the positive puts the person first:
AXIS Dance Company performed
"Wheels" in People Like Me 2003.
|person with a disability
||the disabled, the handicapped
|person who has muscular dystrophy
||afflicted by (stricken by, victim of,
suffers from) muscular dystrophy
|person with a spinal cord injury
||injured, lame, deformed
|person who uses a wheelchair
||confined to (restricted to) a wheelchair;
|person without disabilities