Contact person:
Elisabet Apelmo
  • Norrbacka-Eugeniastiftelsen
  • The Foundation for Assistance to Disabled People in Skåne
Responsible at Malmö University:
Elisabet Apelmo
Project members:
Time frame:
03 April 2018 - 30 June 2022
Research subject:

Project description

Gazes, dance and physical disabilities

Living with a visible impairment implies constantly being seen and handling gazes. The gazes are often influenced by stereotypical ideas and cultural narratives about inadequacy, tragedy and the heroic overcoming of obstacles, and they may be met, ignored, deflected, or resisted. One site of resistance is the disability arts scene. Here, disabled artists may take control over the presentation of their own bodies.

Dance is of particular interest as the body and its movements are at the center. During the last ten years, several dance projects with dancers with and without physical disabilities have been started in Sweden, both within existing dance companies and outside the institutions.

The purpose of the study is to explore visions and strategies among dancers and leaders (artistic leaders, choreographers, project leaders) who work within these dance companies and projects.

Research questions

  • The study will explore and answer the following questions:
  • What opportunities and obstacles do the dancers and leaders experience?
  • How do dancers use gazes, bodies and technology (e.g., wheelchairs, crutches, prostheses) in their interaction with the audience?
  • What cultural representations of people with physical disabilities are created in the performances?

Rights and discrimination

In the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, non-discrimination, participation, equal opportunities and accessibility are key objectives. In addition, the right to participate in cultural life and to develop one’s creative, artistic and intellectual potential are emphasized. However, studies from the Public Health Agency of Sweden and Statistics Sweden show that people with disabilities have a worse financial situation, more health problems and are unemployed to a greater extent than the rest of the population.

The project’s goal

The project’s goal is to identify and analyze the methods and strategies used and thereby contribute to the development of new tools for inclusive work in both the performing arts and in the rest of society. Interviews and visual analyzes 12-15 qualitative interviews are conducted with dancers and leaders. In addition, visual analyzes are made of dance performances, performance materials, and dance films produced by the groups included in the study, to explore how they work with the body, movements, and gazes in practice.