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date: 21 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the relationship between disability and improvisation within dance, drawing from a number of dancers’ own views about the place of improvisation in their making and performance practice, and referencing work that deliberately incorporates improvisation as a device to blur the boundaries between the fixed and the fluid. The chapter focuses on the role of contact improvisation in the work of disabled dancers. By prioritizing the interaction with different bodies, contact improvisation can support an aesthetic based on sensory adjustment and accommodation. Conversely, contact improvisation might be seen to ‘smooth over’ disorder and involuntary motion that disabled dancing bodies offer as a reconceptualization of the acceptable aesthetic in dance. The discussion also includes reference to Notturnino (2014), a work of choreography by Thomas Hauert, which was commissioned for the Candoco Dance Company and offers a way to examine how dance improvisation has adopted disability in its shifting physical aesthetic.

Keywords: disability, contact improvisation, Catherine Long, Steve Paxton, Candoco Dance Company, Claire Cunningham, Kate Marsh, Caroline Bowditch, Tanja Erhart

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