Professor Charlotte Waelde LLB (Hons), DipLP, PhD, is Professor of Intellectual Property Law at the University of Exeter, UK. Her research focuses on intellectual property, new technologies and culture. Her work is international in nature, but also has strong comparative, European and domestic influences appropriate to the subject areas. Charlotte’s focus is on the interfaces between intellectual property law, changing technologies and culture, the changes in the law wrought by those technologies, and the impact that those changes have on the way that the law is both perceived and used by the affected communities.
Several UK dancers with physical impairments have been developing careers as dance makers, leaders and performers but there remain many barriers for dancers with disabilities to enter training and then the dance profession. Each has a story about the experience of being accepted, or not, within the ‘mainstream’ contemporary dance environment. This paper examines the experience of artists who are contributing to a research project that brings together experts in dance and law to discover more about what would better enable dancers with disabilities to play a full role within the cultural landscape. Observations based on witnessing rehearsals together with analysing the discourse that emerges from the artists’ work shows the potential impact of this work on legal frameworks and the dominant aesthetic frameworks that take root in professional dance practice. The paper brings fresh insights to questions about how we critically engage with and value disabled dance.