Christine Hands

writing on the body what is written on the soul

Dance and Disability in the UK


Title of proposed project: Dance and Disability in the United Kingdom

Total amount requested (this must match the total on the budget form): $ 3728.06

Project start date: 3/12/19 (arrive in England 3/13) Project end date: 3/25/19

Project Location(s): The United Kingdom (England and Scotland). London, Glasgow, and select cities in Cornwall, Southwest England.

Project Summary (approx. 100-150 words):

I will travel to the United Kingdom to research dance and disability. More specifically, I will be researching the representation and training of dancers with intellectual disability. I will fulfill this research by taking and observing classes from several prominent organizations doing extensive work in this field. I will interview instructors and students whom I come into contact with. I will engage with administrators and directors to learn about the process of community engagement when working with communities with disabilities. Finally, I will connect with performers with disabilities. Upon my return, I will arrange a live interview via video chat in one of our global outreach classrooms with an expert from the UK. I will compile research about best practices in mixed ability classrooms and present these findings to our program. Finally, I will use my research in the class I will teach in the spring.

Detailed Project Description (approx. 375-750 words)*:

While the first professional dance company featuring disabled dancers was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, since then the United Kingdom has far surpassed the United States in the field of dance and disability. While there is a large research push in the US for representation of dancers with physical disability, there is an equally large gap in the training and development of these dancers. Research shows that one of the largest barriers for disabled dancers is training opportunities. Also lacking are opportunities for the training of dancers with intellectual and cognitive disability.

In England, regular dance classes for dancers with and without disabilities (mixed abilities) abound. I will travel to England and Scotland and connect with some of these organizations. I will interview students, teachers, and directors, and observe and take class. I will observe and participate from the standpoint of a scholar who considers education, community engagement, and choreography as part of the fabric of disability and dance. I will ask what these companies are doing and what we can do better at home to expand the field. I will seek opportunities for collaboration, whether that be teaching, assisting, or otherwise engaging with these organizations.

I will focus on education and the training of dancers with disabilities. I will look particularly at youth education though I will also engage in and with adult classes. (Many dancers with disabilities, for a number of reasons, find dance later in life.) While I will attend a range of classes, I will specifically aim to engage with companies and organizations training and presenting dancers with intellectual disability since this is the largest gap I have found in my research.

In London, weekly youth and adult classes are offered through Candoco Dance Company, Magpie Dance, and Amici Dance Company. In Guilford, England, Stopgap Dance Company has open classes as well as regular youth classes. In Glasgow, Scotland, Indepen-dance offers classes nearly every day of the week, including classes specifically geared for peoples with sensory processing disorders (autism). I will research how classes can be geared for peoples with specific disabilities, and how this alters the class structure and outcome.

Far Flung Dance Theater in Southwest England is disability-led and offers a range of classes for peoples with disabilities. Nearby, in Cornwall, Shallal Dance Theater also has classes and performance opportunities for disabled dancers. I will research how these smaller coastal towns engage with their communities in meaningful ways.

Amici Dance Company in London and Anjali Dance Company in Oxfordshire, England both work exclusively with performers with intellectual disabilities. Both of these companies train intellectually disabled dancers for the stage. (David Leventhal, Director of Dance for Parkinson’s at the Mark Morris Dance Center, has offered to give me an introduction to Colm Gallagher, education director for Amici Dance which I will utilize to make a connection.) I will research the innovative practices that these companies utilize for the onstage success of their company members.

I will travel over Spring Break 2019 to limit the time I will be away from my campus duties. I anticipate missing a single day of teaching. I will secure another graduate student to guest-lecture my students on an applicable topic on the day I am missing class to travel.

There will be opportunities to bring my research back to campus to better the undergraduate students as well as the graduate students and faculty. Next semester I am teaching a Danc200 (Introduction to Dance) Section which will be focused on access and inclusion. I will be able to begin sharing and applying my research with my students as soon as I return to the classroom in March.

I will use a World Outreach Classroom to host a video interview with a contact from England once I have returned (before May 15, 2019). I have requested a $100 honoraria for the purpose of securing this interview. This will be open to the students and guests of TDPS faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students.

Finally, before May 20, 2019 I will present my research findings in an open forum. This will be open to TDPS but I will also invite my connections from the Clarice, the Disability Office, and the school of Special Education. I will present a pedagogical perspective about dance and disability and share the practices I have learned about that are making dance and disability accessible in England.

Justification (approx. 375 words):

Please provide a brief statement regarding the importance of the project, the communities it will impact, and its relevancy to the IPCCR and our funding priorities. Please refer to the eight priorities listed in the call for proposals that apply to your project†.

The dance classroom, by definition, is a place of collaborative problem solving. The dance classroom in which bodies and minds have a range of potentialities due to disability is an even more complicated place to navigate. Training and choreographing on dancers with disabilities means working creatively with the bodies in the room. Translating movements from non-disabled dancers to disabled dancers, and then back again, requires finding creative and innovative solutions to choreographic problems. Working with a dancer whose mind or body has specific limitations requires teachers and choreographers to collaborate directly with the dancer in front of them, learning what is possible in their body. Researching the education of disabled dancers in the UK will be an opportunity for me to connect with organizations doing this work, and secure opportunities for collaboration both during my stay as well as at a future point.

Connecting with these companies will bring the University of Maryland into a conversation which is gaining traction and urgency in the field of dance. The Disability Dance Artistry Taskforce (DanceNYC) in New York City just completed a large push for education and research surrounding dance and disability. Alice Sheppard (a disabled dancer and producer) is making headlines and technological advances. Dancers with disabilities are expanding their reach.

In the Community Engagement office of the Clarice, we are offering a sensory friendly performance (designed for peoples with autism) this November and I have been writing Social Stories (resources for peoples autism) for school matinees. The Clarice and the University of Maryland are already poised to engage with more communities with disability. Bringing the University of Maryland into this conversation will demonstrate our commitment to accessibility and inclusion at the local and international level. There is a gap in our DMV community for professional dance work with this sort of diversity.

Many of our undergraduate students will go on to teach disabled students in classrooms. Yet they have no specific training for the successful inclusion of students with disabilities into movement practices. This is an opportunity to challenge and prepare our students for the future. We can be ready to raise the bar for inclusion, and also combat ableism, in our University by increasing awareness surrounding dancers with disabilities, and by providing opportunities to connect directly with organizations working in this field.

Prior Preparation:

Please provide a brief description of work you have done in preparation for this project. This might include: securing additional funding, application (or acceptance) to a conference or festival, or agreements with collaborators in foreign countries. Please also attach any relevant letters of acceptance or agreement‡.

*Many of the organizations I have identified do not yet have a Spring term or Spring tour schedule solidified. While I can begin making introductions, I will not be able to confirm much of my travel until closer to the Spring. Therefore I anticipate much of my preparation to happen in early December and in January.*

I have been in touch with my internship supervisor, David Leventhal, at Dance for Parkinson’s in Brooklyn to ask about his research associates in the UK (see Appendix C). David has replied with a number of contacts and I have been offered an introduction to any of the people he knows. I will follow up with him after my thesis performance.

I have been in contact with Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig who have access to a Candoco dancer (Joel Brown) via his brother. I have been offered an introduction. I will follow up later in the season (but before winter break).

I have emailed the director at Anjali Dance Company about observing rehearsals and am awaiting her reply. I will follow up again when their Spring touring dates are available.

I have looked up classes throughout the UK and created a sample schedule (see Appendix D). Some of these classes are open but others will require me to gain permission to observe. While I anticipate this sample schedule will change, it demonstrates the amount of opportunity I will have, and plan to take advantage of, while in the UK.

I have found an application for a work exchange with Stopgap Dance Company (https:// which I will submit closer to my date of travel. (They ask for this to be submitted within 6 weeks of intended arrival.)

I will apply for Round 2 (for travel taking place between December 3, 2018 to May 5, 2019) of the ARHU travel grants, due Dec 3. travelawards#ARHU%20Travel%20Awards.

I have previously been granted IRB exemption for my research.


Use this worksheet to request funds pertinent to your request.

Title of proposed project: Dance and Disability in the United Kingdom

Please list all names and program affiliations for all participants for whom funding is being requested: Note: Participants must be current members of the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies or international scholar/artists affiliated with accredited or internationally known institutions.

Christine Hands: MFA Dance, Expected Graduation 2019, University of Maryland

Part I: Requested funds (Totals from itemized costs in Part II & III below.)


Total Requested.

$ 3728.06

Total requested travel for all participants (See appendix A below) $1263.56

Total requested for lodging for all participants (See appendix B below) $ 1540

Total requested for per-diem food allowance for all participants $ 824.50

Total requested for honoraria $ 100

Type of expense

Travel expenses: (See Appendix A below) Air fare from BWI to LHR $772.73__
Luggage fees $50 (incl. in airfare quote)

Rail fare from EUS to GLC (rtn) $187.04
Rail fare from London to Guilford (rtn) $37.97
Rail fare from London to Penzance (single) $91.73
Rail fare from Penzance to Plymouth (single) $14.54
Rail fare from Plymouth to London (single) $77.46
Rail fare from London to Banbury (return) $23.05

Other (describe: ) Tube pass in London: $6.56 @ 9 days = 59.04

**I have proposed a lot of travel around England. This anticipated travel will shift as I solidify my plans, but I have identified this sample (Appendix D) schedule to ensure I have budgeted properly for the vast opportunities I plan to take advantage of during my travel.**


Lodging: (See Appendix B below)
9 nights @140 per night: (London) 2 nights @ 90 per night: (Glasgow) 1 nights @ 100 per night: (Penzance)

(See supporting documentation in Appendix B)

$ 1540

Per diem (food allowance) MenuHide=1&CountryCode=1114

9 days @ $75 per day (London)

2 days @ $44 per day (Glasgow)
1 day @ $61.50 per day (Penzance / UK other)

$ 824.50

18-19 IPCCR Grant Proposal HANDS.jpg
18-19 IPCCR Grant Proposal HANDS.jpg
18-19 IPCCR Grant Proposal HANDS.jpg