September 7, 2016

Is this disability porn? Lovely duet by disabled dancers

A physician colleague sent me a link to the video entitled “Hand in Hand Dance.”  It features two Chinese dancers, each with a different impairment.  The woman has lost one arm; the man has lost one leg.

As a former dancer myself who has never seen obviously disabled dancers, I was curious.  So I watched the video — and am embarrassed to admit I was surprised at how aesthetically pleasing it is.  Their duet is beautiful and very professional.  The emotional story is clear and compelling:  loss, grief, encounter, relationship, attraction, love, joy.  But for me, the thrilling part was seeing their mastery and pure enjoyment of dance itself.  They use their bodies both gracefully and athletically — exulting in their youth, capabilities, talent, strength, life, and love,

Some people in the disability community are offended by what they call “disability porn”.   You can read about it here  and here.   Is that what this dance video is?  I don’t think so.  These two deserve admiration because they have done the work and have the talent to create an artistically satisfying dance.   But on the other hand, insensitivity is in the eye of the receiver, not the sender.  If I’ve got it wrong, please let me know — and tell me why.

See what you think:

One thought on “Is this disability porn? Lovely duet by disabled dancers

  1. Bettina B Kilburn MD MDiv

    Admittedly, I come from a bit different bent as ordained clergy–we celebrate the Beloved Community of God by honoring –and celebrating–the full range of human ability. So maybe simplistically I received the video as a gift from the dancers, inviting us to share the story they told beautifully with their bodies and music. Their gift called from the dancers tremendous skill, work, and discipline (as great dance –an ability I do NOT have–does). To me the dancers proclaimed in art re imagined ability–to see their work as “overcoming disability” would diminish and degrade a lovely grace. ( I am speaking just for me here).


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