Dancing Beyond Sight: How blindness shakes up the senses of dance
Friday 14 September 2018
(Article published in Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 38 no. 3)
In this essay I argue that blindness offers up a most fruitful perspective through which to rethink the visualist aesthetics of dance. As will become clear from three case studies, both choreographers and performers often draw on blindness's multisensory knowledge and practices as to transform the creation, transmission and reception of contemporary dance. Whether through the auditory exploration of space and presence or the haptic appropriation of another's movement into one's own body, blindness brings along an intensely affective, sensory plenitude to the dance theatre, which is at odds with the formalism and distanced judgment typical of the more conventional, predominantly visual approach to dance. The result of such promising experiments within contemporary dance is the emergence of a more inclusive aesthetics in which the creative potential of sensory differences is no longer suppressed, but ultimately acknowledged.
Key words: blindness; disability aesthetics; sensory studies; contemporary dance; sensory practices (listening/haptics).