Dance and disability in the UK

Dance and disability in the UK – showcasing the work of Candoco Dance Company and other UK companies. Stine Nilsen (Candoco), Emma Gladstone (Dance Umbrella), Caroline Bowditch (artist) and Claire Cunningham (artist) explore the excellent work of British disabled-led dance companies, including world-renowned Candoco Dance Company. A film commissioned by the British Council. Below is a full transcript of the film.

A film commissioned by the British Council.

  • The film shows four different interviews intercut with footage from various dance productions and dance rehearsals with disabled and non-disabled artists. 
  • Emma Gladstone in her offices at Dance Umbrella
  • Stine Nilsen in a dance studio in front of mirrored wall at Candoco Dance Company
  • Caroline Bowditch in a dance studio at Dance4
  • Claire Cunningham in a rehearsal space at Scottish Opera
  • The film features performances and productions by Candoco Dance Company, Scottish Dance Theatre, Rambert, Dance Umbrella, and Caroline Bowditch in rehearsal with Dance4 and Claire Cunningham in rehearsal at the Scottish Opera.

Dance and disability in the UK – showcasing the work of Candoco Dance Company and other UK companies transcript

Emma Gladstone

It’s an interesting time I think for dance.

Stine Nilsen

In terms of driving the art form forward I really believe that having dancers with different physical starting points really opens up new doors. Diversity can make the art richer – how it can erm, bring out different ways of moving.

Emma Gladstone

It’s a very powerful thing to challenge people’s perceptions.

Caroline Bowditch

It’s about working towards excellence. It’s about working within that rigour. It’s about making ourselves, the industry, the best that it can possibly be. As a country we are leading, certainly within Western Europe and arguably I think in an international scene of a more inclusive way of looking at the possibilities of the body and dance is particularly good at that because it allows you to look at the body in a different way and what the beauty of the body is.

Stine Nilsen

Candoco is the world’s leading dance company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. We work with erm, really experienced choreographers to present artwork, dance work that really brings out the skills and really is bold and exciting and challenges what people expect to see in dance, who can dance and how it’s delivered.

Claire Cunningham

While there’s still big issues in terms of the UK making community arts inclusive and acceptable for disabled people and really accessible, those things don’t exists in a lot of other countries.

Stine Nilsen

Alongside the performances we do a lot of learning works, so workshops from development for disabled artists, non-disabled artists and through all of this – through, through the work we do – we really hope that that advocates for changing people’s perceptions of disability, maybe of what our expectations are.

Emma Gladstone

Dance Umbrella is London’s international dance festival and we’re all about 21st century choreography. We take place in October every year across London. I’m not linked to a particular style; you know, I’ve got hip hop, I’ve got flamenco, I’ve got ice skaters, I’ve got a company that are working with mentally disabled performers; I’ve got work for children, I’ve got you know, it’s like, I enjoy that range.

Stine Nilsen

It’s a good sign of people’s thinking going beyond the immediate physical to looking at the art and the content of what’s being said or being made. It’s growing up as an art form.. dance, I think, and I’m excited by where we’re going.

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