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November 2022

Dance and the culture of the body - Where is the grotesque?

Journal/Book: Women Stud Int Forum. 1996; 19: The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England OX5 1GB. Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd. 525-533.

Abstract: Carnivalesque free choice is one reading of contemporary culture. The CandoCo professional dance company, whose dancers include disabled and able-bodied men and women, has received rave reviews. Their success may epitomise the acceptance of all abilities and gender permeations into social diversity; but on whose terms? Negative labels still pursue people with disabilities. For women, appearance as a central aspect of femininity, may be extra hindered by crutches and wheelchairs when social obstacles make the lives of people with disabilities doubly difficult in matters of access, attitudes, and ignorance. People with disabilities can parody the fear, patronisation, and exclusionary practices of so called normal society. Their humour and wit at our expense can be overlooked in our inability to treat them as intelligent. The discomfort that they can cause us may be explored through the idea of the grotesque. Bakhtin's work has been helpful in providing a device to analyse CandoCo's dances. In these, contemporary behaviour can be seen as freedom from old attitudes where the disabled support the able-bodied, disabled men caress and kiss pretty girls, but also a disabled man shows his aggression, perhaps as a sign of such people being brought into the workplace and the conformity that aesthetic demands.

Note: Article J Sherlock, De Montfort Univ, Sch Phys Educ Sport & Leisure, Ctr Anal Leisure Phys Act & Gender, Bedford MK40 2BZ, England

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