Core principles - Access and Inclusion

Age appropriateness and movement capacity

It is the responsibility of the hosting organization and professional to make the appropriate assessments for participants and to ensure safety; some guidelines to consider:

  • Participants should be bare foot, no socks or outdoor shoes permitted.
  • Participants should wear gym clothes, without buttons, zips or studs etc.
  • Participants should remove jewelry and piercings, watches etc.

Equipment. Use yoga mats or gym mats for the floor work as required.

For physically disabled or participants with an injury -- Insure the participants are fit and able to assume the positions and that no-one is pushed beyond comfort or ability.

Encourage participants to talk to each other, learning to say no and learning to trust and be receptive are key aspects of the work.

Communication - audio description methods

Over time we have worked hard as a company to find effective ways of communicating with workshop participants. This has been based on our own experiences in the studio and by taking feedback from participants over the many years of delivering the work. This guide uses names and descriptors that we have evolved over the many years of exploring to find appropriate terms. For example we use the word ‘see’ not to exclude visually impaired people, but to include the sense of ‘seeing’ that involves the other senses when we don’t use the eyes. The underlying principle comes from human development in which the sense of self evolves through touch and movement, through ‘proprioception’ (self –perception) and our self movement evolves from the ability to orient to gravity. We may use the word ‘face’ to indicate the position of the body in relationship to the space or others, rather than ‘look’. However using the verb ‘to look’ does not exclude visually impaired or deaf blind people when ‘look’ refers to the perception of space, to the orientation of self to space and to the direction of awareness to the space whilst moving.

Audio description involves using words to describe the aspects of an experience that escape the perception of a blind person, to support their active participation in what is taking place. When it comes to movement, verbal descriptions are not sufficient as they are open to interpretation and cannot include the picture of the whole body.

We take time to demonstrate and describe as we do so, both verbally and through the careful use of touch and movement methods. This is based on the premise that touch and movement precede our verbal understanding when it comes to learning new ways of moving. Words support visual methods for those who can see, but touch and movement support everyone, regardless of sensory or physical differences, to become more engaged with their moving body. Touch and movement are considered inseparable as we are always in contact with a surface as we move, and this tactile feedback is instrumental in supporting us to shape, measure and register the moving body. When working with other people we learn to register our own body in relation to theirs, we can learn from sensing and feeling an informed body how to incorporate that information into our own.

Human developmental movement methods

Human developmental movement patterns provide a framework within which to introduce fundamental movement principles that will enable each person to engage more fully in their dance experience. Touchdown Dance integrates principles from experiential approaches to human development from Body-Mind Centering® (BMC®)1 which implements the developmental time line of the human being, from lying to crawling, to walking. This time line is integral to the teaching to bring in the detail that enables each person to establish a self directive process of investigation and to discover, over time, more fully integrated movement. It is possible to move back and forth along this time line and to explore any gaps in co-ordination and awareness.

Movement is innate to each body and there is a ‘natural’ movement range arising from the developmental stages we move through to come to standing. We learn fine motor control of objects, and general actions necessary to survive in the environment in which we live – pulling, pushing, reaching, holding and letting go and so on. Touchdown dance’s movement vocabulary arises from this natural movement context so that instructions are clear, supported by hands on tracing and demonstration. Other vocabulary comes from anatomy – the study of the human body, and kinesiology – the study of the mechanics of movement. From this wide palette of disciplines the work is accessible to a wide range of ability, from beginners to professionals, and is rich with methods and principles.

Photo of Katy and Stuart doing a counter balance

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