Hands Like Starfish / Feet Like Moon: The Revelation of the Growth of American Disabled Women’s Theater

Original link: https://tyingknots.net/2022/07/ands-like-starfish-feet-like-moons-disabled-womens-theatre-collectives/

Poet Yu Xiuhua recently revealed on Weibo that he was domestically abused by her new husband Yang Chuce. Many viewers seemed to have finally waited for the joke of this “disabled peasant woman”. It was wishful thinking and self-inflicted blame for her courtship. Yang Chuce revealed a lot of Yu Xiuhua’s private life in his live broadcast room. of her, raving about her being “drunk and peeing in her pants”. Taunting, humiliation, and exclusion are often the violence that the disabled must deal with in their daily lives, and they lead those in distress further into the abyss of self-denial.

In July 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, driven by the disability rights movement and lawmakers. Since then, July has become the “disability pride month” in the United States and even in other countries. People with different disabilities and physical impairments gather on the streets to show their disability status to bystanders, and at the same time, the society targets marginalized people. Created discrimination and cracks challenge. Author Victoria Lewis provides a historical footnote on what disability pride means today: as a polio sufferer, her upbringing in the 1960s was full of roadblocks, and while the theatre world was thriving with revolution and experimentation, she still A healthy body is the entry criterion. Looking back on this period, Reeves analyzes how women with different disabilities have learned to let go of stigma, respect and appreciate each person’s unique physical traits, and form a collective network that embraces their vulnerability in the troupe. It’s not that the disabled turn into Superman to be proud, but as Reeves said to another disabled dancer, Cheryl Marie Wade: “You can be strong and broken. You can be strong and be incomparable at the same time. Ordinary pain and suffering.” At the end of this article, Sun Yuexing, who is also a theater worker, also provided her mental journey of translating this article.

In Pride Month for the Disabled, may Yu Xiuhua and Reeves in different time and space be able to illuminate each other, dance, write poetry, love staggeringly, and celebrate their starfish-like hands, moon-like feet, Ishibi Ears that bloom like roses.

Original author / Victoria Lewis
Original title / Hands like starfish/Feet like moons: Disabled Women’s Theatre Collectives
Translation / proofreading and cataloging by Sun Yuexing / Lin Zihao

In the early 1950s, with the rejection of body diversity on the mainstream stage as a fuse, a “democratization of thought” was launched in the American theater industry: a reconstruction of who could be on the stage and whose stories could be told. 【1】. A particularly obvious manifestation of this trend of thought is that in the 1960s and 1970s, women originally distributed in mixed-gender and non-traditional groups gradually moved towards female-dominated collective theater groups [2]. This article traces actions related to it: The origins of three theatrical groups of women with disabilities on the American West Coast: “Other Voices” (Los Angeles, 1982); “Wry Crips” (Berkeley, 1985) ); and AXIS Dance Company (Oakland, 1987).

Germinated in shared degraded identities, the first steps in democratizing thought often involve the establishment of new figurative expressions through collective creation. For example, the “Lilith” female troupe (Translator’s Note, Lilith, Hebrew: לִּילִית, first appeared in Sumerian mythology, and also recorded in Jewish rabbinical literature. In these literatures, she is referred to as Adam’s first wife, made of clay by God. She left the Garden of Eden because she did not want to fall under Adam. She is also recorded as Samael’s lover, the witch of the night, and a witch with powerful mana.) According to member Carolyn Myers, (their) task was to find a different story, one that contradicted the mainstream cultural message that “women are born inferior, strong women are destined to be excluded” s story:

We (women) have all been deceived… we have been excluded from the circle of important affairs. …we must learn to trust ourselves, trust each other…and listen to others tell the real stories of their lives and those moments of enlightenment. 【3】

“Witch” female dance group poster, source: liliththeater.com

In the process of discovering their disabled female identity, Peni Hall, Patty Overland, Judy Smith, Cheryl Marie Wade ( Cheryl Marie Wade) and disabled artists, myself, find role models in feminist theatre practice. We’ve all had epiphanies, too, when our identities were once “shaped by lies”: negative imagery embedded in public policy and institutions. We share our experiences, strive to break through old stereotypes, and reimagine disability.

Many disability scholars argue that disability research is derived from feminist doctrine. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson made the connection in her seminal book Unusual Bodies: The Characterization of Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature (1997), where she insisted Claims that “femininity and disability are closely intertwined in patriarchal culture.” [4]. Beginning with Aristotle’s definition of a woman as a “deformed” or “crippled” man, Grande-Thompson traces how women and disability are constantly intertwined in Western culture – the “normal” only Refers to able-bodied males, and even to white men for a while. Sixteen years later, in her deafening treatise “Feminism, Queer, Cripple,” Alison Kafer stresses that “feminist doctrine has given me the theoretical tools to think critically about disability, The stigma of bodily diversity and the multiple modes and strategies of resistance, dissent, and collective action.”[5]

Caffor’s classic monograph Feminism, Queer, Cripple (2013), whose discussion can be found in the earlier translation of “The Future of Access, the Alliance of the Future” (Part 2) | Caffore . Source: Indiana University Press

The establishment and formation of the three troupes is closely related to the institutional and personal exploration of women’s performing arts in the late 20th century, and what critic Moira Roth defines as “the personal experience of women, the collective The feminist theatre practices that explore specific feminist social activism strategies are very similar. Nonetheless, a self-contained practice dedicated to women with disabilities emerged. What is the reason?

In the process of finding answers, I hope to place disability within the framework of the democratization of American theater, and to dispel the cultural representation of “disability” as a negative and hopeless “other”. At the same time, when the unequal social structure of disability is exposed, we can more clearly see the uniqueness of the disability experience. Many elements of these experiences are beyond the current definition of equality and universal human rights. Wandering between the two poles of social construction and essential difference, I intend to question the concepts of “equality” and “equal rights” rooted in the collective practice of theater, and expand their definition in the wider theater community.

01. Why is it self-contained?

Before disability rights were protected by legislation in 1977, people with disabilities were never recognized by cultural gatekeepers. Before the 1970s, the outdated concept of classifying disability as a negative category, together with the lack of cultural participation, education and training, and employment pathways, visibly eliminated the existence of disabled people from American cultural life [7]. Of the three founding and early members of the troupes discussed in this article, only three had a training background: Penny Hall (“Funny Crip Gang”), Bonnie Lewarts (AXIS Dance Company), and myself ( “other voices”). Both Lewarts and Hall had formal training in theatre and dance before their physical injuries. I was turned away from professional training, but was exposed to both non-traditional and feminist practices during my tenure with two theatre companies. Most women in disability theatre have never even gained admission in the performing arts. But they were all inspired by democratization and intuitively used the potential of the performing arts to justify disability in the cultural realm.

On and off the stage, liberals and conservatives alike are using disability metaphors to add voice to their issues. Conservative rhetoric seems to be the most prevalent: an independent woman with a strong will and her handicap to overcome all odds, becomes a model for guiding individualism. Yet the cultural establishment on the left seems to be caught in the same mainstream misconceptions as the right. Hence the image of a large number of poor disabled victims of war and capitalism, as well as heroic suicide, as the critic Una Chowdhury forcefully calls “pseudo-tragedy”. The storyline of “If you are disabled, you would rather die” often reflected in the works) [8], appeared in Brian Clark’s “Whose Life Is It?” ” and Paul Higgins’s “Million Dollar Baby” [9] and other plays and films. Since the mid-1970s, disability activists, scholars, and artists have rejected the “medical model” of disability—the person with a disability who is ill and unable to take care of himself, or a heroically disabled hero who is effectively “cured” By. Today, disability activists and artists speak about disability within a socially constructed, historically defined system: the “social model,” a paradigm that provides personal and political insights that make collective action possible.

The representation of disability in the American mass media is often full of clichés, and it is also a key battleground for the resistance of the disability rights movement. The picture shows the poster of the 2019 documentary “Deformation Code”, and the Chinese film review ” Hollywood’s Freak Industry – The Long Century Before “The Hearing Girl” can also be seen. Source: IMDB

Scholars of theater and disability historians can provide some clues as to why liberals have inexplicably resisted understanding disability as a liberating concept. Although this article begins in the 1960s about how the practice of women with disabilities emerged from feminist theater, the democratization of Western theater can actually be traced back to revolutionary France—a period in which the revolutionary representation of the aristocracy First appearance: “Nature is weak like a woman, born lame and blind” [10]. Such metaphors have influenced many radical theatre practices over the next two centuries, viewing masculinity and self-care as superior. Disability historian Douglas Baynton explores how disability metaphors permeated the great 19th and early 20th century debates on citizenship, such as women’s right to vote, African-American liberty and civil rights, and concerns about immigration. Limitations and other issues [11]. Discrimination is rightfully justified in treating these three categories as “disabled,” and liberation as further disability, as Baynton found. At one point, doctors insisted that “the need to yield to the powerful is deeply rooted in African Americans”: evidence is in their “genu flexit,” in which African-American knees are naturally prone to kneeling.[12] . As for emancipation, it brought African-Americans “a significant psychological and physical decline.” [13] Similarly, these doctors also emphasized that women’s education would cause reproductive organs to “shrink, deform, and change.” Weak and sick.”[14] Immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were judged weak and flawed, threatening to taint the Anglo-American gene pool. [15] From this, it is not surprising that groups who have been deprived of civil rights and strive for equal rights have tried to distance themselves from the “crippled, disabled, and blind” as far as possible. Removing the handicap shrouded in stigma and resolutely emphasizing one’s masculinity, independence and integrity, these exploited people have given these exploited a ticket to first-class citizenship.

02. Suspended Stigma Management: “Safe Waters”

In 1982, when I created “Other Voices” (1982-2002), a workshop project for disabled women, I was a member of the “Witch” troupe (1978-1981). I borrowed the physical theatre exercises and “personal is political” storytelling used by The Witch. The peculiarity, surprising twist, and resonance of the story of the real experiences of women with disabilities made it reverberate beyond the rehearsal rooms of the Marco Tippo Theatre, culminating in a TV special in 1984—” Tell Them I’m a Mermaid”, presented by liberal advocate Norman Lear and hosted by activist/artist Jane Fonda.

Screenshot from the TV show “Tell Them I’m a Mermaid” (1984). Source: https://ift.tt/khjRM63

Behind such success is the collective creation that lays the groundwork for a new narrative. Barbara Weissman attributes her ability to break down physical limitations to shared stigma: “Moving my arms and my hands was always risky for me. I was too conspicuous. Everyone else (in the workshop) The same is true.” [16] The physical freedom in this group, and the gripping stories that come with it, come from the suspension of “stigma management”, which is defined by sociology Irving Goffman in Stigma: Notes on Damaged Identity Management (1963). For people with disabilities, “stigma management” describes social means to appear “normal”. As the critic Grande Thompson explained, this “minstrelsy”, a performance of “normal”, is the price to be paid for being accepted by mainstream society.

Goffman’s classic Stigma: Notes on Damaged Identity Management (1963). The stigma management adopted by the disabled in order to “appear normal” requires a lot of emotional and intellectual labor, and in the disabled dance group, members can suspend this labor and explore the freedom of their own limbs instead. Source: amazon.com

While burn survivor Barbara Kamara describes the workshop as a “soft and safe space” that creates “a field of full freedom to play, and full of meaning”[17], she also describes in part The effect of suspending stigma management. The same narrative emerged during a group rehearsal for the “Funny Crip Gang,” poet/playwright Cheryl Marie Wade said: “It’s a safe water, when you’re trying to understand what you’re feeling. , even trying to express the experience of disability, you can float on it safely.” Penny Hall describes the collective creative process of “Funny Crip Gang” as: “A plug is pulled, and then you can say more and feel more”. She added, “For many women, the sense of security goes away when there is a man in the room.” [18] Like other progressive movements of the same period, the disability human rights movement also has problems of male dominance and sexism.

“Softness” and “safety” are not qualities associated with the unconventional theatre of the 1960s and 1970s. The radical non-traditional troupe has inherited a socialist interpretation of the word “people”, emphasizing masculinity and personal courage in the face of danger. Eric Hobsbawm notes that the portrait of the people gradually became “masculine” in the socialist movement, from the topless “Liberty Leading the People” in the early nineteenth century to muscular male figures . [19] In Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, many well-known socialist workers’ choirs agreed to women joining traditional mixed groups but excluded them from singing revolutionary songs; female voices were considered too high at the time Too thin, not suitable for expressing radical emotions. 【20】

Original painting of Eugène Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” in the 19th century. Source: wikipedia

03. Independence/Interdependence/Dependency: Those Stories

The words “independence”, “interdependence” and “dependence” have played an extremely important role in the development of the disability rights movement, as it is in legal and civil discourse. It is closely linked to the “Self-Reliant Living Movement”. Aware of the risk of being seen as dependent, the pioneers of social activism reclaimed the word “independence” as not autonomy but agency, and in doing so rebelled against the superior control and lack of health care systems The social environment of barrier-free facilities isolates persons with disabilities.

The notion that independence is not self-care but self-reliance is evident in the stories generated in the Other Voices workshop. Unlike the miraculous healing scene “I can walk again!” portrayed in the popular media, many women with limited upper-body strength will see switching from a manual wheelchair to an electric one as liberating. Now, they can act according to their own will. In this group, instead of being dependent, the wheelchair is a symbol of independence.

“Other Voices” Dance Company Workshop, 1982. Source: original text

Disability artists insist that stories such as these come only from disability experiences. The story of actress Italia Dito is exactly that. Dito was “connected” with polio in Ecuador at the age of two. When the family relocated to the United States, Italia was placed in a hospital from the age of two to twelve. According to Dito, her non-English-speaking parents “kept signing consent forms for surgery without knowing what was going to happen to me.” When Dito was eight years old, she began to speak English and

“Started asking a lot of questions about my own surgery. I saw with my own eyes that the doctors had no idea what they were doing. They were just practicing new surgical procedures on me. Yes, I wanted to walk and become a ‘Normal’ people. ‘…’ When I woke up from the ‘…last’ operation, my dad was standing next to me, and I said to him, ‘Dad, don’t do any more surgery, please. It’s okay that I can’t walk. I just want to live my life outside these hospital walls and I’ll do everything I can to make it the best life I can. ‘”【twenty two】

Dito’s story is very new. Healing and Overcoming—the standard dramatic climax of a disability story—becomes a source of danger here. This heroine, a twelve-year-old girl, sees what no one around her sees: that independence is about self-reliance, not self-care; that racism and class prejudice can hide behind the veneer of advanced medical science.

Deborah Stone, a historian of the welfare state, observes that “two centuries of invincible individualism did not give in easily to the painful fact that dependence is necessary for human existence.”[ 23] It can be said that the disability play has brought to light the phenomenon of “over-emphasis on independence in our culture” [24]. In recent years, disability scholars and social activists have gradually shifted from “independence” to “interdependence” to more accurately describe the life experience of all human beings, including those with disabilities, and how the overemphasis on equality based on self-care and individual strength Dangerous to collective well-being.

04. “Funny Crip Gang” Troupe: Body and Sex

(The tune of “Lollipop” by the women’s quartet the Cordettes in 1958)

body part, body part

Oh hoo, body, body parts (x2)

I have hands like starfish / I have feet like moon

I have ears that bloom like Ishbeati roses

Cheryl Marie Wade’s hilarious parody of the pop song “Lollipop” was born out of her upbringing in the “Funny Crip Gang” disabled women’s troupe. Wade, the “fashionable girl” in the disabled culture of the 1980s and 1990s, was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Independent Artist Award for his one-man play “Savage Girl”, but when he entered the troupe, he seemed to lack confidence—— “No matter how aggressive I was at the time, there was a time when I couldn’t reconcile with my body,” she says. Joining the “Funny Crip Gang” was a turning point in Wade’s development as a performer and writer:

(Funny Crip Gang) The best part is being able to speak up here as a disabled woman. …I never thought about expressing anything about who I was until I joined the troupe. …I found my voice in the Funny Cripple Gang. 【26】

Cheryl Marie Wade (1948-2013). Source: The New York Times

Founders Patty Overland, Laura Rifkin and Judy Smith came to Oakland in 1985 and met in wheelchair sports. Oflan attributes the creation of the troupe to a romantic encounter. “I was dating an actor from a ‘native language’ [feminist theater company],” she recalls. “I just thought about where she went.” Later, her girlfriend took her to see the “Fat Lips” troupe ( Against the Oppression of Obesity), Overland’s idea for the “Funny Crip Gang” was born. 【27】

Like its predecessors, the “Mother Tongue” troupe, the “Funny Crips Gang” also opposes all hierarchies. There were no interviews at that time, and there was no distinction between directors/screenwriters/actors[28]. If you want to perform, then you can join. They embrace all types of disabilities and experiences and believe in the power of discovering personal truth in a community of women with disabilities. [29] Everyone in the troupe writes—poems, monologues, skits, and everyone performs at the same time. Penny Hall, who worked on theatrical production and administration within the troupe in her early years, describes the process of casting and revising the script as ensuring “everyone has a ‘moment to shine’ and a chance to bring out the best. show themselves.” [30] Disagrees with the special treatment of “better” reciters. No one will be “forgotten in the corner”.

The “Funny Crip Gang” troupe, like many groups at the time, ideologically did not have a smooth teamwork process, and was sometimes full of disputes. But, according to Patty Overland, there’s one thing the team agrees on: presenting themselves as sexy. “Whether straight or curved, we want to let everyone know that we are proud of our sexuality, because people always (say) ‘Just those people, how can they be sexy?'”[31]

The literary critic Lanard Davis has argued that people with disabilities are often “de-eroticized” [32]. Early statistics support Davis’s view that deeroticization places a particular burden on women with disabilities. [33] Compared with ordinary women, disabled women are less likely to marry and more likely to be divorced. Married women with disabilities are more likely to be divorced or separated than married men with disabilities when the condition strikes. Women with disabilities were denied roles that non-disabled women were desperate to get rid of at the time: mothers and wives. The inability to be accepted by women’s traditional social roles has led some disabled feminists to describe themselves as “social wanderers” because there is no other name. 【34】

The “Funny Crip Gang” troupe is known for celebrating sex and disabled women’s bodies. Perhaps no one has a bigger say in pushing this direction than Cheryl Marie Wade. Wade had progressive juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and the condition of her hands made her particularly embarrassed. She recalled: “I’ve been carrying a shawl or a large satchel for years so I can put my hand in it and people don’t feel uncomfortable and I don’t get humiliated by people’s eyes. “【35】

When Wade first performed with the troupe, she tucked herself from neck to toe into loose, shapeless clothing. Her voice is always there—charming and sweet, sometimes soft and sexy, with a sarcastic tone. But as her acting confidence grew, “the camouflage fell off.” She put on a dress so that when she spoke of her lover’s observation of her “the scars on your knees are like two lips together, smiling,” she would lift them up for everyone to see. The scars are real, as is the silent cancan. There is a love poem called “Transformed Tuxedo”, about two people who just fell in love, drinking red wine, talking about the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, watching the cat’s tail wagging, waiting for night to fall. The poem reads:

When the sky turns blue at night

You swear and I believe it

my curled paws

It is the shining silver moonlight [36]

However, Wade is skeptical about part of the political stance on disability — that if social discrimination and prejudice are eliminated, people with disabilities can participate equally in society. For Wade, this argument rejects the fact that it is “physical capabilities” that determine what we can and cannot do. Pain is then denied because “it doesn’t fit in with our image of being strong and powerful”[37] She concludes: ” You can be strong and broken. You can be strong and at the same time have extraordinary pain and Suffering. ” [38] Reaffirming difference rather than equality is what Wade’s work itself tells us, which separates art from political claims.

05. AXIS Dance Company and Physical Differences

The biggest difference for me is that we say (the PH*Prank cast) as one group, but each of them is completely different, which is more diverse than any group (I’ve worked with before). 【39】

– Naomi Goldberg, choreographer “PH* Prank”: Telling the Hidden History of the Disabled Created by The Other Voices, 1994 at the Mark Tipper Theatre, New Works Festival

At the age of nine, Naomi Goldberg’s body was measured and deemed fit for ballet. “Standard head circumference, leg length, foot arch and weight.” [40] The knee injury separated her from the world of traditional dance and pushed her to engage in contact improvisation and contact with non-traditional students. Even with so much experience, the eight actors in “PH* Hoax” opened up a new chapter for Goldberg.

The difficulty of forming a collective voice accompanies disability drama creation from beginning to end. Cheryl Marie Wade once got into an argument with another member of the “Funny Crips” troupe over her poem “Savage Girl.” Mimicking the rhythm of skipping rope and inspired by the daring disabled women on Berkeley Street, the poem extols “Annie with clubfoot in shining red shoes” and “Blind old Wilma reads a novel a day”. A total of eight women appear in the poem, accompanied by eight different obstacles. But a member of the troupe declined to perform the poem because she felt it did not cover all types of disabilities.

Looking back at the history of AXIS Dance Company, a group born in the late 1980s dedicated to the integration of disabled dancers and non-disabled dancers [41], we can see that AXIS has always been engaged in the main contradiction in the collective works of disabled women. Wrestling: non-disabled leaders and disabled leaders, amateurism and professionalism, serving the whole community and serving the individual arts. But at its root, AXIS Dance Company has long been showing bodies on stage that don’t fit the “ideal” body in traditional dance, once considered taboo and only suitable for weird shows and medical displays. The taboo was so severe that, in 1994, The New Yorker dance critic Alani Croce refused to attend Bill T. Still Here)” and called it “victim art” [42]. If Croce’s article was meant to prevent “inappropriate bodies” from reappearing on stage in major concert halls, it failed. In response, dance manager Jeremy Arrigo began a study of integrated arts groups around the world and produced the first International Wheelchair Dance Festival in Boston in 1997. Groups from all over the world tell each other’s stories in dialogue and dance. Arrigo invited Judy Smith, the director of AXIS Dance Company, to curate the festival together. In Boston, Smith gradually moved out of the community-based art and turned to the more challenging professional dance field.

Judy Smith and Janet Clad in the AXIS Dance Company. Source: original

When Judy Smith, Tyanes Mazur, and Bonnie Lekowitz founded AXIS in 1987[43], they were insignificant among the collective art start-ups in the Californian Bay Area where unconventional art gathered. Smith and Mazur met at the “Hand in Hand” women’s self-defense martial arts school. When Mazur, a non-disabled professional counselor with a dance background, asked Smith to create a dance piece together, Smith “did not know anything about dance at the time. I don’t know” [44]. Before Smith was injured in a car accident her senior year of high school, she had dreamed of a career as an equestrian:

I am very interested in it (dance). (Because) one, it’s a workout…I love that, it’s the same as I did before equestrianism – it’s an extreme self-exercise. 【45】

AXIS, like Other Voices and Funny Cripple Gang, had an open-ended principle in its early years: if you want to do it, you are welcome to do it. Artists who were shut out of mainstream performance culture because of their stigmatized bodies found a home at AXIS. So when Smith returned from Boston to Oakland, her proposed idea of ​​inviting professional (or “non-disabled”) choreographers to work was snubbed. Co-founder Tyans Mazur is one of the opponents. But Mazur’s existence as a non-disabled troupe member is inherently contradictory. Ten years after the founding of the group, Mazur and her male partner still lead dance workshops for disabled groups, still assuming the professionalism required for this position, and still insisting that this kind of work is only used as an educational tool to cultivate disability awareness.

Smith eventually took control of the dance company and collaborated with world-class choreographers such as Sonja Dale Wilder, Joe Goode, Margaret Jenkins, Stephen Petronio, Victoria Marx and Bill · T · Jones and others have cooperated. The dance company challenges those who say no to the concept of fusion dance with action. 【46】

According to Smith, the company’s workflow in 2014 has not changed much from what it was under Tyanes Mazur’s direction. Physical differences are cryptic, even between founders Smith and Bonnie Lekowitz. Smith explained: “We dance in completely different ways—we are not interchangeable.”[47] The weight and height of non-disabled dancers were also taken into consideration to create complex and athletic combinations, Types of wheelchairs too. Everyone – including world-class choreographers – is struggling to think about what can be created together.

Looking back at Bill T. Jones, who composed Schubert’s Rhapsody in C for AXIS in 2000, he says he struggled “to find a shared dance vocabulary”. [48] ​​As a choreographer known for his dance skills, he was “amazed at how much effort it takes to find synchrony among performers with different physical dynamism. Here, everyone’s arms, torso, and legs are There are different rules of movement, or no rules at all.” Jones wrestled with adding “rapid movement (running, walking, jumping) to the rhythm—with a wheelchair, whether manual or electric.” For For Jones, these differences present new aesthetic possibilities, not political stumbling blocks. 【49】

As Bill T. Jones said, in the works of AXIS, “everyone can be regarded as a text”, and the “galaxies” formed by these bodies together constitute the story itself. Out of the many bodies and steel of AXIS are new creations, new realities and new myths. New York Times commentator Bruce Weber advises readers in his article on AXIS:

“Sympathy” has nothing to do with it. Forget what isn’t there and focus on what’s present. See the wheelchair itself, rather than seeing it as a substitute for what it is. see it? The wheelchair is tilted to one side, a wheel is flying in the air, and a dancer is lying on the wheelchair, spinning slowly and gracefully. It is the wheelchair that makes such a moving picture. 【50】

The vision of AXIS Dance Company in full bloom is reflected in the reconciliation of distinction and equality. In the process, the damaged body is not relegated to a general paradise where limbs can be repaired and wheelchair users can run around the fields again, but instead is turned to fully understanding and maximizing the development of the dance group member’s body difference. The mobility aids used by the “damaged” body are integrated into the artistic dance, and equality exists not only in team norms and protected individual autonomy, but also in the network of interdependence. Decades of creative process make AXIS Fusion Dance Company an illuminating example of how to find the balance between equality and difference.

Choreography workshop of AXIS Dance Company in 2018, source: AXIS

06. Conclusion

Collective production played an integral role in the democratization of American theater, and it was also an important aesthetic and civic outcome of the democratization process. As we have seen, the body itself is the call to action for theatrical reformation.尽管在科班培训和职业雇佣当中的固有偏见依然存在,但边缘群体依旧在剧场实践当中寻找突破口,树立人类新典型。









































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