There’s a lot of work to be done when it comes to challenging ableist stereotypes, making art accessible, and fostering a culture that celebrates disability. Perhaps the most effective strategy is to bulldoze barriers and ignore such stereotypes altogether, as many of these dancers do. Sheppard, for example, insists that she’s not out to evangelize nondisabled people. She’s not simply arguing that disabled people matter and can actually do amazing things. Disability culture, she told Aimi Hamraie on their podcast Contra*, “is more than the constant arguing for justice and the constant explaining of disabled life.” It’s about “who [we] are . . . when we’re not justifying our humanity to others.” Sheppard sees her primary audience as other disabled people. Still, there’s no denying the important work these dancers are doing in shaking up representations of disability. As Herman put it in a September 2020 essay for Dance/USA, paraphrasing the activist Simi Linton, “dancing while disabled is a political act.”
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