Christine Hands

writing on the body what is written on the soul

Dance and Disability

A photo of Christine and Melissa. Christine lies sprawled on the floor in a green sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers. Melissa sits in a blue power chair in a green shirt. Melissa is holding Christine’s hand, their arms extended in a connected line from Melissa in the chair to Christine on the floor. The are on a polished wooden floor and behind Christine a register, windows, and lighting booms are visible.


Every Body Dance Now
Access and Inclusion in the Field of Dance

My current research revolves around the dancing body with and without disability. A currently non-disabled performer, I grew up in a household with a disabled mother and sister. This research is both personal and universal. I engage the field by taking a robust approach to inclusion and access in the field of dance. I ask about the history and impact of the disabled body onstage and make connections with the field of disability studies. I ask about education, both the availability of dance classes for peoples with disabilities as well as best practices for diverse classrooms. I create and choreograph on movers with and without disability. And finally, I look at presenting organizations and the ways we engage and include communities with disabilities through the services we provide. I am seeking expansion in the field of dance on and off the stage.

Invited Talks

“Through the Door: Access and Inclusion in the World of Dance” GradTerps Exchange at the University of Maryland. Sept 12, 2018.

“Making Inclusive Dance Spaces: Why Disability Dance Artistry Matters In Our Community” Going Dutch Festival Talk presented by Side Street Studio Arts. May 26, 2018.

"Innovations in Inclusivity" TDPS Wednesdays Series at the University of Maryland. November 15, 2017.

"A Spectrum of Abilities: Expanding Diversity Potential Onstage Through Mixed Ability Dance" Making Interventions Symposium at University of Maryland. October 13, 2017.

“A Spectrum of Abilities: Expanding Disability Potential Onstage”  ACDA Mid-Atlantic North Conference at University of Maryland. March 10, 2017

"Masculine Men and the Search for Other Options: Masculinity Performance on the Western Stage” University of Iowa Craft Critique Culture Conference. April 14, 2007.

 Arts Admin

Fall MFA Dance Thesis at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, MD 2018
Choreographer and Administrative Support. The show featured Audio Description, ASL interpretation, and a Touch Tour

Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, MD 2018-2019
Graduate Assistant in Community Engagement: focus on access and inclusion

Mark Morris Dance Center, Brooklyn, NY 2018
Intern: Dance for Parkinson’s and Education Dept. with a focus on inclusion


Mixed Ability Movement Classes, Towson University and The Gordon Center, MD               2018
Lead workshops for dancers with and without disabilities

“A Spectrum of Abilities: Expanding Disability Potential Through Dance” Baltimore Country Public Schools Workshop Day. September 21, 2017.


 A Duet with Melissa

A choreographic work made in collaboration between Christine and Melissa Hands. The piece is about their relationship as sisters, but doesn't shy away from the fact that Christine and Melissa, in spite of sharing most of the same DNA, have incredibly different challenges as movers.

You can view the full work here 

A Duet with My Sister

A choreographic work featuring Christine and Melissa Hands. Melissa’s intellectual and physical disabilities are the catalyst for choreographic invention, not a limitation. 

You can view the full work here

Dance Film in Progress

Another joint project with Christine and Melissa Hands, this dance film is seeking to find the choreographic voice of two dancing sisters. 





Christine Hands is available for educational presentations on dance and disability, as well as mixed ability/ inclusive workshops and classes. Contact me! 


If you’re interested in Dance and Disability please see a brief list of resources below to begin your own research.

Some Resources for Dance Teachers: 

Making an Entrance by Adam Benjamin (co-founder of Candoco)

Brain Compatible Dance Education by Anne Green Gilbert

Dancing Wheels Physically Integrated Dance Manual and DVD


Some Inclusive Dance Companies: 

Anjali Dance Company (England, UK)

AXIS Dance Company (Oakland, CA)

Candoco (London, England, UK)

Dancing Wheels (Cleveland, OH)

DanceAbility (Portland, OR)


Other Great Resources: 

FIXED, a documentary about adaptive devices

A great conversation with Judith Smith and John Killacky that includes suggestions for working with peoples with disabilities

Bill Shannon, a disabled artist from Pittsburgh

Josh Blue, a comic with cerebral palsy