Who gets to be lucky?

Flipping the script with Lived Fiction


Listen to an audio version of this blog

People say you make your own luck. That luck is simply for those who work hard.

The famous actor and film director Clint Eastwood once said when collecting his Oscar It took this much talent” [His fingers measure a few inches] “. . . and this much luck” [his arms spread wide].

For the Disabled dancers in Stopgap, it is the other way around.

For me, a non-disabled white person, yes I work hard, I have a little talent, but I have also had a lot of luck and privilege that has shaped my career and access to the arts.

From what I have learnt from the Disabled dancers in Stopgap, they have developed a lot of home-grown talent, they have worked hard and have grasped the slithers of luck that came their way.

Black and white photo of dancer Hannah Sampson, a white person with Down Syndrome

Black and white photo of learning disabled dance artist Hannah Sampson. Hannah kneels low on her right leg and stretches her left left along the floor, her foot flexed at the end. Circling her right arm overhead she curves at the elbow, her left palm braced flat on the floor. Other dancers watch her in the background. Hannah is white, they have Down syndrome, their blonde hair is tied back and they wear a light t-shirt and tie-dyed joggers.

Take a moment; think about your career and your journey. Who opened the door for you?  Who encouraged you? Or were you someone who had to jam the door open with your castor wheels?  If not, take a moment to consider this…

  • What if you couldn’t get in the building to meet that great teacher?
  • What if their inspiring teaching and content was not accessible to you?
  • What if your teacher didn’t have the vision for the type of artist you could be or the career you could have?
  • What if the role you won was a stereotype you didn’t want to play?

Do we really simply work hard and make our own luck?

 Stopgap doesn’t think so . . .

So how can Stopgap change who gets to be lucky?

This statement has been a driver for Stopgap’s recent dialogue with industry peers and funders, alongside our latest production Lived Fiction.

For Stopgap it comes down to two things: 

  1. Access
  2. Representation of diverse dancers, specifically Disabled dancers

Much of our digital work over recent years has been created by or with Disabled artists. For instance, Dance Tapes; an album of audio choreography by four Disabled dance artists who share their inner worlds as dancers and their lived experience as Disabled artists. Or Dance for Kids with IRIS presented by an intersectional cast of dancers and where a robot radio called IRIS supports young dancers to follow the moves with audio description.

 Although different in style and output, Dance Tapes and Dance for Kids with IRIS are both original inventive artistic experiences that we are proud of. But they also do something else – through a diverse representation of dancers and the use of integrated access tools they share a fairer future for Disabled people that everyone can support and benefit from. And so yes, we are trying to create the best dance experiences we can, but we are also trying to get people to believe in and contribute to this fairer future.

Black and white photo of a wheelchair dancer in the studio.

A black and white photo of Disabled dancer Monique Jarrett in the studio. Leaning back in her manual wheelchair, Monique extends her legs down towards the floor and her arms upwards, her elbows slightly bend. Another dancer lays on their back in the blurred foreground of the image, curling their knees up towards their chest. Monique is a short statured Black woman, she wears a baggy vest and light colour joggers and socks.

Now we are all aware that a fairer future and working together is not always easy, it takes a huge amount of effort. Therefore, Stopgap needs to create experiences that encourage a desire for something better than what we have now. By showing what is possible when working inclusively.

Our productions instead of saying what if… there is no step free access?

Our productions hopefully make audiences think . . . wow!

  • What if all buildings were accessible?
  • What if every dance company had a disabled dancer in their cast?
  • What if every dance teacher was trained in inclusive dance practice?
  • What if every Dance College had a disabled dance teacher on the

And more than ever we hope our next indoor touring production Lived Fiction will also create that desire for a fairer future where everyone gets a chance to be lucky.