Questions from students

This blog I write for all the students that came to me and ask me what inclusive/ integrated dance is. Often I tell them, I can’t give you  the answer. It is not up to me to decide besides that I rather accept the fact that everyone is able to dance and some of us become professional even though we have a learning or a physical disabilty.  Discussing the content of the word might not always help us in our job. Also English is not my first language and some things get lost in translation.

However, where to start to understand these words. Inclusive; being included, being embraced, taking part in… a the term that is kind of the lead role on this webpage. What I see in the Netherlands it is often used as word dat includes ‘everyone’. what you see on PR information: ‘Come and join our inclusive dance course, dance is for everyone’. However, are these courses for everyone? The framework is becoming very wide. It could mean age 0 to 99 or does it mean mixed abilities or literally everyone?

Nevertheless, you also hear the word Integrated; being integrated with, combining elements, including different ablitities, interact on basis of common abilities, bring together or incorporate (parts) into a whole. So reading this, is there a difference between integrated and inclusive?

Yes, I do think so. It might be just the feeling of the word. The words conjures an image in your mind. With the word inclusive it feels as if there is something excisting already, like a group of dancers and you jump into it and then if accepted you’re included. Also to include there should kind of be a common ground. Should this common ground then be accessible to include everyone? With Inegrated it feels as if the first step is about this common ground and you just try to make it work. What I also see in the work field is that inclusive dance classes often only count dancers with a learning disability and integrated dance classes are more mixed abilities. Well, maybe this is a wrong conclusion. However, in both cases should there be a label to it?

Sonja Parmentier says: ‘To me Inclusive/ inclusion is a more passive word as if , like you describe , it is about being accepted in something that is already there….”to me integrated is way more active and asks for an active attitude from different dancers to be prepared to learn from eachother and connect together and find out each and everyones possibilties’. 

For me important is to research who is giving this information and what is the main goal of this organisation when they talk about inclusive or integrated dance. By the time you know this, you kind of know what to expect both teaching and dancing the course. Also, If you want to start something like setting up a classes make sure you write your PR text to the dancers you would like to involve. Also think about what you need to make that work… In other words, what is your vision on this topic? What do you find important to include or exclude?

At last I do think its important to teach accessible classes. In the wider sense of the word. It’s the start of changing and challanging the conceptions of dance. Not only on stage or artisticly, but also in class you are challanging your students. I can imagine that it would be so wonderfull to not think in frameworks, disabilities, age or more.. just dance.

Joop