An information sheet for writing about Stopgap Dance Company's work

Thank you for your interest in Stopgap Dance Company's work. As a company where disabled and non-disabled artists collaborate to create dance productions, we thought that some writers and interviewers might like to have some information on our approach towards disability and inclusivity. If you would like additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Stopgap Dance Company’s approach is firmly based on social model of disability, where a group of people are disabled by barriers within society. We generally don't talk about people being 'victims of their impairments' or 'overcoming difficulties' or 'succeeding despite their disability'. See the insightful video below to find out more about the social model.

Using language that implicates disability as a social construct imposed upon certain individuals is a good starting point for talking about Stopgap Dance Company and our dancers.

Avoid

Use

The handicapped, The disabled
Disabled (people)
Afflicted by, suffers from, victim of
Has [name of condition or impairment]
Confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair-bound
Wheelchair user
Mentally handicapped, mentally defective, retarded, subnormal
Someone with a learning disability (singular) with learning disabilities (plural)
Cripple, invalid
Disabled person
Spastic
Person with cerebral palsy
Able-bodied
Non-disabled
Mental patient, insane, mad
Person with a mental health condition
Deaf and dumb; deaf mute
Deaf, user of British Sign Language, person with a hearing impairment
The blind
People with visual impairments; blind people; blind and partially sighted people
Dwarf; midget
Someone with restricted growth; short stature
Fits, spells, attacks
Seizures

(from Government guidelines)

Stopgap showcase high quality works that depict social interaction between disabled and non-disabled people as a matter of fact, and these works invariably advocate for a more inclusive world... but this social mission is quite separate from our artistic ambitions.

Having an awareness of the social model will make it easier to understand why Stopgap's artistic ambition is never just to produce pieces about disability.

Stopgap endeavour to remove social barriers from our studio in order to make the creative space an equal playing field for all our artists. This goes beyond removing physical barriers and using accessible language - it's also about a mental shift of all those involved. Our artists are shown that the process of resolving differences can result in creative spark and innovation, and this revelation turns an eclectic group of individuals into a cohesive creative force. In effect, Stopgap attempt to remove psychological and physical barriers that could hinder collaborative working, so that disability doesn't remain the central focus of our artists. The inclusive studio environment widens our artists' interests to a fuller range of issues they see in the world.

Our artistic work is therefore rarely about disability issues per se nor is it about direct activism. Our artistic team simply hopes that the audience will enjoy a highly original performance first and foremost.

As a whole organisation however, we do advocate for a more equal society but we do this by showcasing works that depict social interaction between disabled and non-disabled people as a matter of fact. Our work invariably advocates for an inclusive society, but this social mission is quite separate from our artistic ambitions.

Interesting facts: 

  • 67% of the British public feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people 
  • 43% of the British public do not know anyone who is disabled
  • 36% of the British public tend to think of disabled people as not as productive as everyone else

Source – Attitude survey by Scope

 

The biggest social barrier for disabled dancers is actually present way before they reach Stopgap's studios. Disabled people have very limited access to grassroots and tertiary level dance training compared to their non-disabled peers because the mainstream provision remains highly inaccessible. In response to this, Stopgap offer extensive and inclusive training, which you can see here. By investing in our own training programme, we ensure that disabled dance artists entering our studios have had the same level of experience as their non-disabled peers, and this is crucial if they were to collaborate on an equal footing properly. It is also the key to making sure our productions are of the highest and professional in quality.

As a company that specialises in inclusive and rigorous dance training, advocating for mainstream training institutions to become more accessible continues to be another organisational focus.

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