Accepted paper:

Movement, disability, and kinesthetic-self-making in integrated dance

Author:

Gili Hammer (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the relations among physical disability, movement, and kinesthetic self-making, focusing on the case study of integrated dance of people with and without disabilities. It discuss the ways disability functions in this context as a means of unsettling habitual embodied practices.

Paper long abstract:

Physical disability has been commonly articulated as a static state of being, imagined as the opposite of movement, nonetheless, of dance. Yet, as I demonstrate in my ethnographic research on integrated dance of people with and without disabilities in Israel and the US, disability may engender a sensory and kinesthetic sensitivity.

In my work with dancers with varied physicalities I discovered disability to function as a state that calls for a unique sensory attention, including interoceptive awareness. For example, physical disability challenges the taken-for-granted of everyday tasks such as walking, and an injury requires the person to (re)learn a new skill, adapting the habits acquired to fit with the new body. Disability, therefore, unsettles habitual embodied practices, reshaping people's sense of physical immanence, offering an experience of various rhythms and spaces. Disabled people are indeed experts in moving.

In my research, I focus on the formation of movement and what I call the kinesthetic intellect and self, in the crossroads of two sensory cultures: disability and dance. I ask about the ways the meeting between people with different abilities engaged in activities requiring shared understanding of concepts such as rhythm, partnering, and pacing, construct creative answers to the questions what a body should do and what disability (and ability) is.

Findings reveal that when bodily difference is explored in a movement-oriented context, agency is expressed when participants discover the life of untypical movements such as small gestures, horizontal movements, and movements involving objects such as wheelchairs.

panel P069
Movement, stasis and interoception: unsettling the body [Medical Anthropology Network]