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Inclusion

FRAGILE

Daniel Tércio in Jornal de Letras (22nd February to 6th March 2012)

+INFO

On stage there are several wheels and grazing lights that cut the bodies in segments. The bodies are objects on wheels - dynamic presences, therefore, circulating on axes. Also fragile presences on construction pieces. Progressively, the differences are revealed.


There is nowadays a debate about the definitions of disability and conceptualizations on disability. For example, the social model of disability (or disabilities) has assigned a particular relevance to the contexts of inclusive education, while questioning the processes of social integration of people with physical, intellectual or psychological differences. Such differences are not necessarily limiting unless society fails in its adaptation.


Thus, disability studies as a field of academic research based in practice emphasize the need of the participation of people with dysfunctions in every state of research, including conception, planning, implementation and dissemination of results. This way it's expected that the development of the discipline should include an element of consultation and participatory research, hopefully leading to an emancipation program.


Apparently, none of this has to do with dance. But in fact, has everything to do with the dance, not because dance has any kind of humanitarian purpose, or special social mission, but because the body - and its signs - play the central role on dance, disabilities are the first sign of that presence.


Often, when relating to disability, we tend to assign to arts functions that are purely therapeutic or of rehabilitation. Certainly this sets an important area of intervention. There is another sight to cultivate, a sight that crosses ways with that area, but that may also stand as independent, a sight developed internationally and with a very meaningful expression in Portugal. This other sight represents a new expression, if we will, another sensibility, not only on disabilities but also on the ways of contemporary dance.


A company like Dançando com a Diferença, headquartered in Madeira, it's an excellent example of a continuous and consistent work, precisely on the domain of contemporary dance that is now preparing an ambitious program of national tour in 2012.


Another structure that includes in its work this line of artistic research is Vo'Arte, directed by the dancer and choreographer Ana Rita Barata and the filmmaker Pedro Sena Nunes. In this context, Vo'Arte organizes InArte - International Meetings of Inclusion through Art, which is an important forum of research, sharing and experimentation around difference and creative processes.


In the perspective of international exchange, this structure develops at this point the project FRAGILE, an inclusive dance project that integrates visually impaired people in performing arts, including performers from Norway (Baerum Kulturhus) and from Estonia (Tallin University) and the participation of Kjersti Engebrigtsen, a Norwegian researcher who has developed a method of body awareness for the visually impaired.


Besides the workshops, Vo'Arte has been developing creative proposals for the stage. Recently integrated on Guimarães, - European Capital of Culture program, the piece O Nada (Nothing) was presented, alluded on the beginning of this chronic and that completes the trilogy of O Aqui (Here) and O Depois (After). O Nada (Nothing) gathers on stage people with and without (visible) disabilities and with different disciplinary backgrounds. The ways the body marks its presence and how it works - and is perceived by the public - in the relationships that it establishes with other bodies, whether organic or inorganic (eg, the wheelchair) creates an immersive ambience of a powerful fragility. It's raises a deliberated paradoxical association between the "powerful" and the "fragile". Which one of the terms should be underlined? This is a question that is asked to each one of us.

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