Toward a Queer Crip Aesthetic: Dance, Performance, and the Disabled Bodymind
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Although contemporary dance and performance has often included disabled people, inclusion typically comes in the form of adapting traditionally non-disabled forms for the disabled body. This practice is most often called “physically integrated dance,” an inclusive approach in which disabled and non-disabled people dance together. When this approach entered the dance world in the 1980s and 1990s, it was a new frontier. However, physically integrated dance came at the cost of simplifying the disability experience and disengaging from a more politicized approach. Disabled people have been present in art-making for decades, but the mere inclusion of disabled people in dance and performance created (and continues to create) a veneer of “sameness” between disabled people and their non-disabled peers. This approach obscured the possibility of generating representation that aestheticized and politicized disability. Through critical analysis, I explore the history and current manifestation of inclusion as a tactic for creating integrated art, noting the pitfalls of this approach. In the search for alternatives, I recognize and analyze examples of performance that engage intersectional identity and push the boundaries of integration through the politicization of disability and explicit rejection of the mainstream. In other instances, alternatives use the disabled body and mind as a source of creative material. I call this latter form “crip aesthetics.” Through using the examples of art practitioners who experiment with crip aesthetics, I create a vision for breaking away from inclusion models, taking values from the countercultural models, and ultimately moving toward crip aesthetics in our own art practices.