As an invisibly disabled dancer, I am still on a long personal journey towards using my disability’s invisibility within performance to subvert social concepts of disability. Luckily, mistakes can be as informative as successes, and so I look to mine discussed in the third section to learn how invisible disability can be used within performance. Whether the audience is aware of your disabled identity is a key consideration, and at what point. To inform them may invite a diagnostic gaze, so one may choose to invite and then subvert that gaze, or perhaps not to invite it until after a body has been viewed, to allow an audience to notice their shift in perception. I think it is important that the audience are made aware at some point of a performers disabled identity if a performance aims to question disability. The term “body-ownership”, meaning an “awareness of one’s own body in space, and the pleasures and possibilities of this embodiment” (Kuppers, 2003, Pg 126) is a term I enjoy because of the ‘pleasure’ in this definition. Pleasure feels important to me, as it focuses not on the satisfaction of those observing a body, but the joy of the person who lives that body. When making performance that tries to communicate a message around disability, personal bodily joy can be sacrificed for the good of the audience, but I feel this betrays the original message of body equality.
Within performance, I would urge an awareness of whether a disability is being performed to match stereotypes or satisfy the social requirement of visual proof, or whether the performer is showing how ‘normal’ their body is by passing as able bodied. A step I wish to take within my practice is one of ‘owning’ my body and its disabled identity within performance, treading the precarious gap between passing and performing and remaining true to my own life experience of disability. It is a delicate balance between claiming your identity and body, whilst not letting your impairments or conditions define you or your work. It is about knowing and sticking to your physical and energetic boundaries, despite pressures to go beyond them. It is a lot more difficult than it looks on paper, and can be a challenge to all performers, not just those with a disabled identity.