DeMon / Curadores Feridos / AMtro

Trespassing of Boundaries and Unification of Differences Through Art

The Ugly Duckling Version DanceAbility

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R. C. Migliorini

I am taking a DanceAbility‘s workshop held by Núcleo Dança Aberta. Physical diversity among persons, and how they can relate to each other despite it, or rather for that very reason, is the utmost concern of this workshop.

Although disability may be the quintessence of physical diversity, this work does not focus on that. It sees disability as something that embodies diversity but does not forget that people, whether disabled or not, are always unique. Therefore, for me, the most important trait of DanceAbility is the recognition that physical diversity acts upon movement so that it becomes unique as well.

It is interesting to note that even if body movement is DanceAbility’s prefered media, its classes start with a circle where people talk.

In one of these circles, it came about the issue of perception of persons with a severe “visual disability”. Would not it be good if the person with this eye condition decided to dance/move without glasses? When this issue came about, I did not feel like saying anything. However, now I do.

I have a very severe nearsightedness. It stabilized around – 22 diopters, which requires strong eyeglasses. I have worn them uninterruptedly from when I was four to my pre-teen years. During that time, they would get stronger every year, and when I was about ten, I tried to swap them for contact lenses. Nevertheless, I was not able to fit them.

It is normal to think that this happens only due to physical problems. However, in my case, it did because of a psychological impact.

Now, in general, spectacles stand for something negative, mainly when they are very strong and are in the face of a shy boy whose marks at school are excellent. This way, they are also a cause of bullying.

Nevertheless, they are also a shield or a mask of the sort. What do I mean?

I have very beautiful eyes (for Brazilian standards) that for years had been hidden behind thick lenses. All of a sudden, by clearing myself of my shield or my mask, I started to expose my eyes (and myself), and I simply was not prepared for that.

This way glasses, simultaneously correct a severe degree of myopia and protect one from the gaze of others. Then, when I got rid of my glasses, I began both, to call attention upon me because of the beauty of my eyes, and above all, to see the other persons looking at me. Yet, as I was still fragile inside, I could not bear this at all.


Everyone would say this meant I was mad and it is great to be the school “nerd” one day and the handsome guy with the beautiful eyes the next. Ultimately, it is like being the ugly duckling. However, now I know that a huge inner shift is needed for one to transmute from an ugly duckling into the most beautiful swan of all. Unfortunately, the fairy tale does not tell us that, and as in my case the inner change did not happen, the outer one did not either.

Even so, to me, self-exposure was part of my plans, and the fact that I became a performing artist proves it.

Still, the stage brings on this sense of security, as in it the artist is relatively unaware of the audience’s gaze. I mean, its strong lights and architecture detach it from the audience. While it sees what happens over there, it rarely steps in. Therefore, it was comfortable for me to attract the other’s gaze from up there, as I still could not see all those persons looking me back.

Soon after graduating, I acquired a physical disability. In a way, it was like being turned into an ugly duckling again. As a result, if because of my glasses I had a serious problem with my self-image, a feeling that I thought I had overcome altogether, the disability worsened it so that I still do. Sometimes, I am very ashamed and crave for a shelter.

This flight from exposure though may generate stuttering speeches or hesitating actions, for instance, and consequently, misimpressions. In this case, it would be noxious. The artist practice counteracts it by inserting the person in this showplace, in a platform from where one to better play a role cannot hide. (It has just occurred to me that one of the artist’s role is to show oneself in the lighted arena while the audience comfortably sits in the dark).

Since DanceAbility welcomes all kinds of physicalities and their abilities, it also welcomes self-expression in its infinite ways. It enables self-exposure when it looks at different bodies and accepts them just as they are. It sees their beauty and substance. In other words, it deals with humans rather than with super-humans.

Then, together with other practices, it is metaphorically helping me to get rid of my glasses again.

P.S. Many people want to keep their “glasses” on. No problems. Sometimes, it is also positive. Moreover, DanceAbility welcomes them as well. Nevertheless, for my personal quest to keep covered is not an option, so I am well aware that it is my choice, and nobody else’s. So, do not take what I said as a rule. Perhaps DanceAbility’s golden rule is that everyone is free to make one’s own choices.



Author: roda de cura

Um ex-artista de dança interessado na transgressão e integração de fronteiras pela arte. A former dancer interested in trespassing of boundaries and unification of differences through art.

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