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Title: Divided by ability : a critique of inclusion in dance education and performance
Author: Kostoula, Christina
ISNI:       0000 0004 2673 6227
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2008
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The concept of ‘inclusion’ has been propagated as a key policy within British New Labour rhetoric for an expanded social agenda in education. This thesis provides a critical analysis of discourses that underpin existing notions of ‘inclusion’ in dance education and performance. My critique is based on the specific case study of ChickenShed Theatre Company and its outreach project, in which I have been involved as an inclusive group leader. My methodology integrates interdisciplinary perspectives and strategies to examine a range of different kinds of evidence from studio practice, rehearsals, stage production, press reviews, and ChickenShed’s policy and promotional documents. I employ discourse analysis, embodied fieldwork and self-reflection as methods for evaluating the philosophy/practice that I have trained in and implemented, but also for investigating elements of inclusive pedagogy beyond ChickenShed (such as disability arts, CandoCo Dance Company’s training, and a number of integrated curricula endorsed by the Arts Council of England). My purpose is to discuss strengths, deficiencies and possibilities emerging from current theorisations and tactical treatment of ‘disability’ as cultural ‘otherness’.Part One offers an overview of the ideology that supports ChickenShed’s teaching settings and practices concerning inclusion. Mobilising critical socio-cultural analysis, I consider the ways in which the progressive value of inclusion can be subverted by the demands of a competitive neoliberal society. I suggest that the corporatisation of inclusion in mainstream cultural production often involves a form of commodified identity as ‘sameness’. I argue that implicit adoption of a non-critical/apolitical stance within arts pedagogy can lead to a conservative position in relation to disability and inequalities of cultural capital. Part Two provides a counter-narrative that contests the perceived normative functions of inclusive practice. Based on participant observation of my own outreach group, I illustrate how the agencies of diverse individuals/students and the teacher/leader’s decisions can make contradictions visible, spell out differences explicitly and negotiate them expressively within the pedagogic situation. Dominant concepts of homogeneity as well as binary divisions of ability, which can often prevail in inclusive dance teaching, are confronted by the embodied agencies of the participants and can be altered through a shared and critically informed creative process. I propose an alternative conceptualisation of inclusive pedagogy, in which dance provides as basis for a new model of inclusion; not just an ideology of community and cohesion, but an embodied ontology recognising inequality in practice and problem-solving around lived differences. Ultimately, the performative agencies of disabled participants emerge as capable of addressing oppressive/exclusive structures.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available