In 2016 choreographer Abi Mortimer, and disabled dancers Laura Jones and Suzie Birchwood began a collaborative research practice commissioned by Stopgap Dance Company. The intention of the research involved developing physical languages unique to self-propelled wheelchair dancing. An important research aim was the discovery of a language that was shared by the dancers and used body with chair to find articulate clarity, a shared sense of grounding, movement intentionality and direction of energy.
This project was Abi’s first professional work with disabled dancers and the process challenged her to rethink and rediscover her choreographic languages within this new context. The processes also represented a departure for Laura and Suzie’s more fostered practice of developing ‘translations’ of movement devised collaboratively through integrated (disabled and non-disabled) casts. The casting of this project provided a research opportunity to discover wheelchair dancing as a technical practice that was ‘untranslatable’, and self-referencing. This methodology raised questions: Is it possible for wheelchair specific dancing to challenge the assumption that disabled people have vulnerabilities they might be expected to experience?
One of the outcomes of their research is a new dance film a part and it’s “B-Side” Outtakes (2018), p roduced by Hubble Bubble Productions. Abi and Laura will discuss their collaborative working processes and their creative intention to make a dance film that featured disabled artists from a place of strength and self-assurance. Inspired by De Keersmaeker’s seated choreography Rosas Dans Rosas, on a strong female cast, a part reimagines the complex rhythmical structures, sensual use of breath and vigorous repetition on a moving chair and gradually ruptures the contemporary styling through revealing the dancers’ inner Beyonce! Abi and Laura will discuss why a part invites audiences to think differently about disability and celebrate a new kind of female icon.
Date(s) - Monday 13 May, 2019