Home Events Dancing Disability Culture: Online and In-Person (On Demand: Recorded)

Dancing Disability Culture: Online and In-Person (On Demand: Recorded)

Main Topic: Creativity and the Arts
Session Type: Skill Share


Disability culture emerged in the 1970s as disabled people became more visible in and gained greater access to mainstream society. As our collective understanding of disability deepens and shifts, disability culture constantly shifts and widens to provide community, care and a sense of commonality to those that have most often been forced to the margins of society. As Petra Kuppers and Melanie Wakefield note in their entry on Disability Culture in the Encyclopedia of American Disability History, “Disability culture is always emerging, never quite yet there, for certainly hierarchies and normative ways-of-being characterize many congregations of disabled people. Oppression and shame are deeply embedded qualities, and it takes more than just a call for disability culture to undo the rigorous regime of denying disabled people’s right to be in the world” (270-271). Essential to disability culture and to our practice as educators are the constant shifts that our bodies and art must make as new bodies enter and move with us. This constant flux may feel unwieldy and chaotic, but in fact, is highly methodical and requires a deep knowledge of the community to successfully and effectively implement. In this experiential workshop, we will provide a brief history of disability culture, as well as an overview of some of the emerging conversations around disability aesthetics. Using this grounding in disability culture, theory, and knowledge, we will work together as a group to explore how we, as dance educators and co-founders of the Inclusive Dance Workshop Series in Chicago, IL, deploy the basic tenets of disability culture in our workshop to make the space not only more accessible but actively welcoming and inviting for disabled students. By introducing and deeply exploring common disability cultural products and practices like crip time, alternative communication and collective access, we will demonstrate how disability culture enables dance educators to create radically accessible classes where dancers have the opportunity to collectively construct community. Additionally, we will share some of the key lessons we have learned as we moved our workshops online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing particularly on the challenges and opportunities of working in a cross-disability, virtual space.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this session, participants will have tangible ways to center disability culture in arts education programming, tips on working in a cross-disability dance space, and lessons we have learned about delivering online workshops to dancers with sometimes conflicting access needs.

Keywords: Dance, Disability, Culture, Teaching

View the Session: https://community.pacrim.coe.hawaii.edu/groups/4189398/feed


Feb 23 2021 - May 01 2021

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Feb 23 2021 - May 02 2021
View the Session: Virtual Space


  • Maggie Bridger
    Maggie Bridger
    University of Illinois at Chicago - PhD Student

    University of Illinois at Chicago

    Maggie Bridger (MS) is a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Disability and Human Development and a dance artist working in disability dance. She earned her Bachelor of the Arts degree in Dancemaking and Dance Studies from Columbia College Chicago in 2011. Her research and artistic interests center around disabled bodyminds in dance, with a focus on chronic illness, pain and the ways that disabled artists reimagine the dancemaking process. Her work has been shown at Access Living, Columbia College Chicago, and Cottey College, among others. She was part of the inaugural cohort of the Dancing Disability Lab at UCLA and serves on the committee to organize CounterBalance, Chicago’s annual integrated dance concert. Together with Sydney Erlikh, Bridger was a 2019 Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellow, through which they co-founded the Inclusive Dance Workshop Series at Access Living, which recently debuted their dance film, Shared Time, at the 2020 CounterBalance.

  • Sydney Erlikh
    Sydney Erlikh
    University of Illinois at Chicago - PhD Candidate

    University of Illinois at Chicago

    Sydney Erlikh (MSEd) a graduate student in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago. There she is studying dance and disability to create multi-sited ethnography on mixed-ability dance groups that include individuals with intellectual disabilities. Sydney taught special education in alternate assessment classrooms for seven years in New York City and California where she created dance opportunities for students. Sydney is a DanceAbility certified teacher and has attended the AXIS dance teacher training. She was awarded a Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellowship with her partner Maggie Bridger which lead to the creation of Inclusive Dance Workshop Series at Access Living in Chicago.