Disability and arts News and blogs 17 Ways to Work with Dancers with a Disability 17 Ways to Work with Dancers with a Disability By Imogen Butler The arts are able to inspire people of all ages and from all walks of life. Through the arts people with a disability can acquire the freedom to express themselves, develop confidence and gain communication and social interaction skills. Diversity makes all art forms richer and more interesting – dance is no exception! Our dance tutor, Imogen Butler, has put together some handy tips for working with dancers with a disability: Face the students when communicating and make sure all students can see you clearly Use your hands – gesticulate! Consider learning/using Makaton if necessary Ask questions Accentuate key words Ask students for describing words (of any aspect of the dance: Style, posture, specific movements) Speak in rhythm / timing of the dance Use rhymes More able students can support less able Prepare students – don’t take them by surprise eg if you are going to use them for demonstration. Consider using a visual lesson plan so students know what they will be doing Discuss how you are feeling / what you are thinking within this ‘picture’ (Like when Mary Poppins and the children jump into the chalk paintings in the original film) Think about use of eyes: What are they looking at? Where are they looking? How are they feeling within their ‘character’? Compare the stance, posture, ‘look’, ‘feel’ to something familiar to the students – can the students come up with imagery of their own? Use video (YouTube, or students watching themselves on video) Use visual aids to support learning floor patterns, placing, travel direction: Photos, drawings, footwork ‘maps’ (for Latin and ballroom), colour (eg Green = Go forward, Blue = Backward, Red = Sideways) Improvising to a piece of music will show you how students naturally dance and move Clap (accentuate where required. For example; clap #1 of the slow waltz can be lower and louder to communicate that step #1 is weighted, claps #2 & #3, are higher and lighter to communicate that these steps have a lift to them) Celebrate achievements!