top of page
Online Ad_675 pix x 120 pix_edited.jpg

[ENG][中] 以不同身體舞蹈:Propel Dance

文:Helen Mason

翻譯:Pomny Au


作為一次突破性舉動,三位女士在2022年12月成立Propel Dance,藉此改變及挑戰舞蹈界及社會對於誰可成為舞者的看法。舞團由Helen Mason、Amy Dalton-Hardy 及Katie Stevens創立,只以輪椅舞者為特色,並支持輪椅舞蹈作為一種藝術形式。


在2016年,我於Para Dance UK取得輪椅舞蹈導師的資格後,在伯明翰成立了名為Freewheelin Dance的社區組織,為欲回歸舞蹈界或想作第一次舞蹈嘗試的傷殘舞者提供舞蹈課程。組織逐漸擴大,並在全國的共融性比賽、歐洲輪椅籃球冠軍賽、伯明翰的聯邦賽事開幕典禮等活動表演。很多參加者表示想參與進階舞蹈訓練或作專業表演,令自己的舞蹈事業更上一層樓。可是,舞蹈界普遍缺乏讓傷殘舞者發揮的機會,尤其是輪椅舞者,在當地更是沒有任何合適機會。

《冰雪女王》Snow Queen/攝 Photo:Dani Bower (照片由Propel Dance 提供 Photo provided by Propel Dance)


英國現時只有少數專業的共融舞蹈組織提供就業機會予傷殘舞者。雖然這些團體有作出突破性的努力,但提供給輪椅舞者的專業工作非常有限,即使可供就業,輪椅舞者亦需要自行轉化舞蹈動作。如果舞者缺乏這方面的經驗,就會對他們形成舞蹈就業障礙;而缺少訓練去讓他們在這方面建立信心,也讓他們沒有機會開展舞蹈事業。


Propel Dance旨在於就業市場銜接輪椅舞者與工作,不但為他們提供就業機會,亦為舞團提高其共融性。超過半數的Propel Dance職員認為自己是傷殘或是神經多樣性的。在Propel Dance,代表性是非常重要的。


在Para Dance UK的訓練中,我學到輪椅舞蹈是一種藝術形式,亦是一項在許多歐洲區域中有著眾多追隨者的競技運動。在英國只有少數殘疾人舞蹈及輪椅舞蹈組織,例如:曼徹斯特的Strictly Wheels、威爾斯的Impetus Dance、牛津的Sun-Rae Inclusive Dance、伯克希爾的Wheelz in Motion、駐曼徹斯特的Inclusive Dance UK,以及伯明翰的Freewheelin。所有組織都在其課程中使用殘疾人舞蹈運動技巧。這編舞方向尤其以輪椅用家的角度作為基礎,而不需要輪椅舞者轉化健全舞者所用的材料才能表演。但是,作為一種創意工具,「轉化」在與一群不同能力的舞者合作時是重要的。許多殘疾人舞蹈組織和Propel Dance 一直在創作中沿用「轉化」。每當有人為另一人創作舞蹈時,就會產生一個適應及轉變動作的需要,因為每個人都有不同的身體並會隨之而不同地舞動。然而,很多時候Propel Dance創作的動作都來自於「我們可以一起做」的理念,讓每個部分都可以在共同努力下完成。這是在別的共融舞蹈組織不會看見的。

《冰雪女王》Snow Queen/攝 Photo:Dani Bower (照片由Propel Dance 提供 Photo provided by Propel Dance)


殘疾人舞蹈運動的技巧考慮到其他舞蹈所用的很多元素,例如姿態、時間,表現及表達,也考慮到輪椅舞者的實際運用,包括手部放在車輪上的姿態,以及圓弧轉彎、軸轉、反向轉彎及四分一轉等旋轉動作。很多舞動都有參考夥伴合作或組別合作的幾何圖案,也有考慮到輪椅在空間上的位置。當中的元素有面向對角線表演Z字型的路徑、半個、全個及四分三方向轉變,以及腳尖、傾斜及獨輪特技。


Propel Dance在今年四月完成了首個小型試行公演,在英國中部的三個劇場登場。製作改篇自漢斯.克里斯汀.安徒生的《白雪皇后》,五位舞者以現代蒸汽龐克風格演繹這著名故事。

演出獲得觀眾的好評,很多人說從未看過與他們相像的舞者在台上表演,感到很震撼。很多觀眾都是第一次看到殘疾人士在專業製作中表演,這經驗粉碎了以往的刻板印象,並重新定義舞蹈可以作為甚麼、誰可以成為舞者。


每場演出的門票都售罄,而傷殘觀眾的數量更是劇院預期的三倍。Propel Dance的重大願景是令場地更加有共融性,包容傷殘人士參與其中。在這次巡演,與我們合作的表演場地,都可以移開原有的正式座椅,令更多輪椅使用者能入內觀賞。

Propel Dance的下一個計劃是取得資助,製作《白雪皇后》的長篇演出,並在英國各地巡演。舞團亦會繼續在特殊需要學校、日間中心及書院的教育工作坊,使更多傷殘人士得到有質素並有共融性的舞蹈指導。舞團亦期望繼續提供實習訓練予新舞者,讓他們隨舞團受訓,致使他們將來能找到工作,成為專業舞者。通過這樣的方式,我們將社區舞蹈訓練及專業工作連接起來。

在未來,Propel Dance期望為有志擔任領導或管理角色的傷殘人士設立實習計劃,讓他們在我們的團隊內實現所想,成為傳承這項重要工作的下一代。

如你有興趣參與這場精彩旅程,歡迎查詢。欲了解更多我們的工作,包括啟發性的表演、教育工作坊,以及你如何能夠對這些發展作出貢獻,請瀏覽www.propeldance.uk,或電郵至info.propeldance@gmail.com。

==========


Helen Mason擔任舞蹈老師、舞者、編舞超過20年,與不同傷殘慈善團體及機構合作,例如Midlands、 Spectrum Day Centre、Para Dance UK及Whizz Kidz UK,並帶領共融舞蹈會議。她營運Freewheelin共融舞蹈,亦是推進舞蹈的藝術總監。她也是舞蹈領袖,在2022年聯邦賽事的開幕及閉幕典禮支持共融舞蹈。




“Dancing with Different Bodies; Propel Dance"

Text: Helen Mason


In a groundbreaking move, Propel Dance was established in December 2022 by a trio of women hoping to change and challenge the perceptions of the dance world and society as to who can be a dancer. Helen Mason, Amy Dalton-Hardy and Katie Stevens set up the company which features only wheelchair using dancers and champions wheelchair dance as an art form.


In 2016, after qualifying as a wheelchair dance instructor with Para Dance UK, I set up Freewheelin Dance in Birmingham, a community dance class for disabled dancers who wanted to either return to dance or try dance out for the first time. After the group grew and performed across the country in national inclusive competitions and at events such as the European Wheelchair Basketball Championship and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, many of the participants wished to take their dancing further. They wanted to gain higher level training or go on to perform professionally. However, there was a real lack of opportunities not only for disabled dancers in general but especially for wheelchair dancers and hardly anything was available locally.


In the UK currently there are only a handful of professional inclusive dance organisations offering employment to disabled dancers. Whilst these companies are creating groundbreaking work there are still a very limited number of professional job opportunities available for wheelchair dancers and those that are available require the dancer to translate the movement material themselves. If this is something a dancer hasn’t had much experience in doing, it can create a barrier to entering dance employment. And if there is a lack of training to enable you to gain confidence in these skills then there is no avenue into a dance career.


《冰雪女王》Snow Queen/攝 Photo:Dani Bower (照片由Propel Dance 提供 Photo provided by Propel Dance)


Propel aims to fill that huge gap in the employment market by offering jobs not only to wheelchair dancers but by practising inclusivity for the company’s entire team. Over half the Propel work force identify as being disabled or being neurodiverse. Representation is very important for Propel.


From my training with Para Dance UK, I learnt about wheelchair dance as an art form and as a competitive sport which has a big following in many parts of Europe. The UK only has a few Para Dance and wheelchair dance groups such as: Strictly Wheels in Manchester, Impetus Dance in Wales, Sun-Rae Inclusive Dance in Oxford, Wheelz in Motion in Berkshire, Inclusive Dance UK based in Manchester and Freewheelin in Birmingham. All these groups use Para Dance sport technique in their lessons. This works on the basis of creating choreography specifically from the wheelchair users’ point of view rather than using material designed for standing dancers which would then need to be translated or adapted so that a wheelchair user could perform it. Nonetheless, translation as a creative tool is vital when working with integrated groups of dancers who have different disabilities and therefore move very differently from one another and is still a tool used by many Para Dance groups and also by Propel. There will always be a need to adapt and change movements that one person has created for another person to perform as everyone has different bodies and everyone moves differently. However, the majority of the time the movement created for and by Propel comes from a “we can all do this together” perspective, enabling whole sections to be performed in unison, something you wouldn’t otherwise see in integrated dance companies.


The technique of Para Dance sport considers many elements you would see in other dance forms such as posture, timing, performance and expression, but it also looks at hand placement on wheels and different types of spins including arc turns, pivot turns, reverse turns and quarter turns. A lot of the movement also looks at forming geometric patterns with partners or in groups but also includes the placement of your wheelchair in relation to the space. Among the elements are facing diagonals and performing zig zag travel pathways; half, whole and three quarter changes of direction; as well as tips, leans and wheelies.


Propel completed its first small pilot tour in April this year, appearing at three theatres in the UK Midlands. The production was an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and saw five dancers interpret the famous story with a modern steampunk twist.


The production received positive feedback from audiences, with many people saying how powerful it was to see dancers who looked like them on stage, which was something they hadn’t experienced before. Many people saw disabled people dancing in a professional production for the first time, an experience that shattered stereotypes and redefined the boundaries of what dance can be and who can be a dancer.


Tickets for each venue were sold out and the number of disabled audience members was triple what the theatres would normally expect. A big goal for Propel is to work with venues to make them more inclusive for disabled people to attend. For this tour we worked with venues who were able to take out formal seating to allow more wheelchair user spaces.

《冰雪女王》Snow Queen/攝 Photo:Dani Bower (照片由Propel Dance 提供 Photo provided by Propel Dance)


Propel’s next plans are to hopefully gain funding to extend the Snow Queen production into a full length piece and take it on tour nationally in the UK. The company will also be continuing with educational workshops in special educational needs schools, day centres and colleges to ensure that more disabled people have access to quality dance instruction that is inclusive. Propel also aims to continue to offer internship pathways to new dancers so that they can train alongside the company with the hope of finding employment as professional dancers themselves in the future. In this way we are bridging the gap between community dance training and professional work.


Further in the future Propel also aims to set up traineeship placements for disabled people wishing to get into leadership and management roles within the team and become the next generation to take this important work forward.


If you're interested in being part of this trailblazing journey, we welcome enquiries. To learn more about what we are doing , including inspiring performances, educational workshops, and how you can contribute to the movement, please go online at www.propeldance.uk or email info.propeldance@gmail.com


=====

Helen Mason

Helen Mason has worked in the dance sector as a teacher, dancer and choreographer for 20 years, working with different disabled charities and organisations such as Midland Mencap, Cerebral Palsy Midlands, Spectrum Day Centre, Para Dance UK and Whizz Kidz UK, and leading inclusive dance sessions. She runs Freewheelin inclusive dance and is the artistic director for Propel Dance. She was also a dance captain championing inclusive dance at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games 2022.

Comments


Dance Journal - Side Banner_Symphony of New Worlds.png
Dance Journal - Side Banner_LOVETRAIN2020.png
Dance Journal - Top Banner_LOVETRAIN2020.png
Dance Journal - Top Banner_Symphony of New Worlds.png
bottom of page