Negotiating difference: exploring masculinity and disability in contemporary dance
There is a theoretical gap in scholarship pertaining to masculinity and disability in dance. Existing scholarship on masculinity, disability and dance respectively, seldom bring these three themes into conversation with each other, missing opportunities to examine the nuances of masculinity. Through an ethnographic study, I endeavoured to capture the narratives of three professional disabled male dancers from different contexts and backgrounds. The phenomenological approach was selected in order to enhance understanding of my participants’ experiences in an attempt to illuminate how these dancers negotiate and embody their masculinity in dance spaces. The nuances of masculinity, disability and dance are therefore interpreted through a phenomenological framework and seek to foreground the intricacies of negotiation and subjectivity. Through face-to-face in-depth interviews, watching performances and rehearsals as well as less formal conversations, this project aims to illuminate the lives of Marc Brew (Scotland), David Toole (England) and Zama Sonjica (South Africa) as disabled male dancers. I am particularly interested in disability’s ability to challenge normative ideas around dance, identity and masculinity. I argue the need to change limiting perceptions of hegemonic masculinity and the male dancer’s body to advance the artistic medium of dance and allow for constructive dialogue around issues of access and inclusivity. Furthermore, like Roebuck (2001), I am interested in the ways in which contemporary dance works "contributes to the development of a more sensitive understanding of the ways in which dance articulates masculine identity" (Roebuck, 2001: 1).