By Almudena Díaz
To follow a passion although personal circumstances may change. This is what Rita Noutel believes: “when I had the accident I was juggling, doing theatre and doing street shows [… ] But then I spent six years without dancing until I realised that I had abandoned my dream and I had to go back to it in order to feel alive again”
Rita is one of the nine disabled dancers who are participating in the choreography workshop given by the well-known Scottish Creator Janice Parker. This initiative is part of the Art and Disability project that the British Council is developing at a European level to promote disabled artists.
A way of expressing oneself.
The objective of the workshop taking place in Barcelona is ambitious and passionate: A number of disabled dancers have been selected to participate in the exploration of choreographic practice through the development and choreography of a personal piece which two minutes long. The workshop will take place over 8 days divided in three sessions in November, January and February)
This challenge has generated many expectations in the participants who come from a very varied backgrounds. Xavier Duacastilla is not only a dancer but also is active in two integrated dance associations (Kiakahart and Liant la Troca) as their webmaster and community manager. He is interested in combining this art form with technology to create “video dance, choreographies with elements which empower the body through new technologies, mapping, screenings, samplers and electronic elements which generate music through movement sensors placed on the body."
For Jaume Girbau the experience has been very challenging and he has discovered that “directing is very difficult, much harder than I ever imagined […..] But is it is a lovely experience, positive and different because one has to think and help others to follow the choreography: it is more about sharing with others.”
There is one aspect which all the participants agree on and it is that dance enables them to express themselves freely and bravely. Mercedes Losada has discovered that “with this art form I can let my emotions flow” and Maria Oliver states that through it “I can transmit all those emotions which were not expressed and remained locked up in the corset of ‘you can’t do that’, ‘you are limited’ and ‘you are other: different and worth less’ […].
Another lesson learnt from this workshop is the need to get rid of the existing labels around art and disability. Desireé Cascales believes that in the equal value of “conventional “ dancers and disabled dancers and adds that “they can both transmit equally and learn from each other."
The ultimate objective of these projects is to achieve a vision free from labels imposed by creators, the professionals and society so that “ it is no longer news that we are performing in a wheelchair but that the show is great and it is appreciated by the audience” as Maria Jose says.