Touch Me…In Every Colour

“It is not how you move, but what moves you”

This documentary photography project follows a community of professional and semi-professional dancers living with physical or mental disabilities, in Barcelona and Madrid. Conducted over a period of six months, the work challenges perceptions of who a dancer is and how a dancer must move, and celebrates the increasingly vibrant and empowered universe of ‘Inclusive Dance.’ Freed by the fluidity of dance itself, dancers with all types of disabilities are fearlessly enriching the medium through the creation of new vocabularies of choreography in genres ranging from Ballet to Flamenco to Hip-Hop. In the magical lights of the stage, lost in colour, movement and emotion, audiences may one day cease to notice any ‘disabilities,’ at all…if even for an instant. And in that moment…. they will also glimpse another beautiful sight: A kinder, more accepting world.

I created this series of still photographs with mentorship and guidance from VII Photo, a global photocollective representing the world’s preeminent visual storytellers and photojournalists (www.viiphoto.com). In mid-March, 2020, I will exhibit a few photographs from the work at a group exhibition organized by VII Photo and FUGA, Centro de Fotografia, in Barcelona (www.fugafoto.com). The exhibition will run at FUGA for a month.

Following the exhibition, I plan to approach local and international media outlets to seek publication for this work. I will also use the images to apply for photography grants that could enable me to continue this project, perhaps extending it to other countries beyond Spain, and other genres of dance.

Touch Me in Every Colour benefited enormously from the early, gracious council of Ms. Myrtha Casanova, Founder and President of Artistas Diversos. She thoughtfully described the past and current landscape of disability rights in Spain, and kindly introduced me to two key players in the inclusive dance communities of Barcelona and Madrid, including:

–Mercedes Losada, a vision-impaired dancer and actress based in Barcelona. Mercedes is a core member of Barcelona’s inclusive dance community, and introduced me to several other professional and semiprofessional dancers and dance companies, including, among others, polio-survivor and dancer Victoria Martinez of the dance company AME Movimiento Expresion, and Jaume Girbau Boquero, one of the earliest members of the inclusive dance company Liant la Troca, who dances despite living with a severe congenital defect.

–Elias Lafuente, director and founder of the ballet dance company Danza Down, in Madrid. Under Lafuente’s teaching and loving guidance, the dancers of Danza Down, who all have Downs Syndrome, or other neuro-cognitive conditions, have performed on stages around Spain. Lafuente also introduced me to other inclusive communities in Madrid, including A Nuestro Rytmo, the inclusive dance company of Flamenco dancer Isabel Olivade.

As I wrap up the first phase of this project, I am already reflecting on future directions to explore. One aspect of this work that really touched me was meeting the mothers, fathers and caregivers of the disabled dancers I photographed. Their support is CRUCIAL, and yet often overlooked. I would like to shine a visual spotlight on the selfless, and often life-long services rendered by the mothers and other caregivers, of people with severe disabilities.

For a sneak peak of my ongoing story on Inclusive Dance in Spain, please visit the link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/HFKD7WavhUZTVWdG7


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