Hey, guys! I’m really excited about this post 😊 I’ve been doing a deep dive into disability culture recently and I’ve absolutely loved what I’ve found. There are so many different ways to create art: there are mouth and foot painting artists (I’m one myself because I can only type, write, and draw with a pen in my mouth), entire bands of people who play instruments like the drums, guitar, and piano with their feet, and people who tie film cameras around their heads to shoot incredibly creative films without any limbs. I’ve seen record-breaking race car drivers who drive with their feet and amazing archers who do the same. But a recent part of disability culture that I’ve truly come to love is wheelchair dancing.
If you know me, you know that I absolutely adore dancing. I find it to be such a powerful form of expression and it can easily move me to tears if it’s filled with enough emotion to do so. I know lots of different types of street, ballroom, contemporary, and Latin dances (Argentine Tango is probably my favourite. The intimacy and complex leg work in that one is simply *chef’s kiss*) as well as the official terms for some of the moves. I used to be a part of a dance group in Primary School when I was still able to walk and we would perform at different school events. I don’t think I was very good but it was always really fun!
After I became a permanent wheelchair-user, I told myself that I’d never dance in public again. I would feel such a longing when I saw others dance and wanted that freedom of movement and expression back more than anything. I am a little more comfortable dancing in front of others now but I’m still quite shy about it and it isn’t the same anymore. However, I dance every day in my room when I’m alone because I love how it makes me feel. When I’m dancing – I’m flying. I feel so free and connected to myself as every move causes the world to slowly melt away around me.
Everything changed once I saw wheelchair dancing for the first time on YouTube. Now I like to choreograph ways to incorporate my chair into dances like the Viennese Waltz and the Paso Doble in my mind as I sway around my room (I just wish I had someone to dance and try them out with!) It truly inspired me to think about different creative ways that I could move my body in order to dance. I feel even more relaxed dancing in front of others and I also have something new to look forward to: I hope one day to try out wheelchair dancing. I just have to find someplace in The Netherlands where it’s practised. I think it would be an amazing experience.
Below are three different one-minute videos of wheelchair dancing that I picked to share. My favourite wheelchair dancers are Marisa Hamamoto and Piotr Iwanicki so I just had to share their work, but I’ll also share links to some other dancers afterwards. I hope that you’ll enjoy them! 😊
The first is an emotional contemporary dance. I love the emotion and intimacy in this one:
The second is slightly more unique and alternative, and also features a group dance with other wheelchair-users at the end. I feel as if it truly embodies the term ‘disability culture’ and expression:
The last is another contemporary one. It’s a two-minute video but I made sure that the video would start halfway through so it’s still just a one-minute clip of the dance. I like the lifts in this one:
Marisa and Piotr aren’t the only wheelchair dancers out there though. There are so many different wheelchair dance videos on YouTube which I think deserve way more views considering how talented the dancers are. In case you’re interested – here is a dance where the woman is the wheelchair-user and the man is the able-bodied dancer because it works just as well that way around too: (280) BELIEVER: Wheelchair dancer defies gravity – YouTube, here is an extremely emotional wheelchair dance between two men: (280) “What About Us” Marc Lafleur & Dmitry Kim – YouTube, and this is a group dance with hundreds of disabled dancers: (280) Official #InfiniteInclusion Flashmob by Infinite Flow A Wheelchair Dance Company – YouTube. The possibilities are limitless.
Wheelchair dancing doesn’t even have to be between an able-bodied dancer and a wheelchair dancer: I’ve also seen dances between two wheelchair dancers which is really cool because they can hold hands and spin around each other so fast as they go under each other’s arms and turn around. They sometimes move so swiftly that it can be hard to keep track of! There are also some examples of this on YouTube.
I hope that you enjoyed this post about a taste of disability culture! Which dance was your favourite? I plan on doing more posts like this in the future: what part of disability culture would you be interested to hear me talk about next – music or art? Thank you so much for reading ❤ See you soon!