The lived experience of university students with visual impairments and their sighted partners’ participation in inclusive social ballroom dance

Bisset, Faine (2016-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Ballroom and Latin American dance appear to be gaining popularity among people with disabilities, as a form of exercise and leisure activity. However, the majority of research conducted in this field seems to have focused on the physicality of dancers’ movements, while overlooking their unique interpretations of such an experience. Furthermore, there appears to be a dearth of literature on the experience of dance for visually impaired individuals. The aim of this study was to give a voice to the lived experience of visually impaired dancers and their sighted partners who participate in inclusive social ballroom and Latin American dance. The participants were members of the Differently-abled Dance Class that was held by the dance society of a university situated in the Western Cape, South Africa. This qualitative study was conducted within the theoretical framework of the social theory of disability. Method: The processes of data collection and data analysis were conducted according to the principles of interpretative phenomenological analysis. The sample consisted of nine participants (i.e. four visually impaired dancers and five of their sighted partners) with whom I conducted semi-structured, in-depth, individual interviews. Findings and discussion: The experiences of the visually impaired and sighted participants in dance consisted of the accumulation of findings discussed herein. The dancers described many physical, social and psychological benefits of, and challenges from, their participation in inclusive social dance. Such benefits appear to have encouraged and promoted the dancers sustained participation in the class. Ballroom and Latin American dance were described by both the visually impaired and sighted dancers as being a setting in which heteronormative, stereotypical gender roles were reinforced, regardless of a dancer’s (dis)ability. The visually impaired dancers expressed a desire to look good and to fit in with their sighted partners, as well as to disguise their impairment as far as possible when performing for an audience. As such, these dancers appear to believe that there is an expectation imposed on them by society to appear sighted when they participate in the visual spectacle of dance. The concerns of inclusion and accessibility seemed to be a point of contention between the visually impaired and the sighted dancers, with the latter holding the belief that the dance society may have achieved a higher level of inclusion than was described by the former. However, the participants agreed that more could be done to establish the further inclusion and integration of all of the dancers in the society, regardless of their (dis)ability. Dancing with a visually impaired partner appears not only to have challenged and changed the sighted participants’ preconceptions of their visually impaired partners, but also of the people with disabilities with whom they came into contact outside of the dance society. The changing of such preconceptions, however, might lend itself to the admiration and idealisation of visually impaired individuals, which was evident in the sighted participants’ reports. Insights into the world of disability were discussed in terms of the reports given by the participants.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Dit lyk asof baldans en Latyns-Amerikaanse dans al hoe meer gewild raak onder mense met gestremdhede, as ’n vorm van oefening en ontspanningsaktiwiteit. Dit kom egter voor of die meerderheid van navorsing in hierdie veld tot op hede op die fisiese komponent van dansers se bewegings gefokus het, en terselfdertyd besig is om hulle unieke interpretasies van die ervaring mis te kyk. Verder lyk dit of daar ’n gebrek aan literatuur oor die ervaring van dans vir visueel gestremde individue is. Die doel van hierdie studie is om ’n stem te gee aan die geleefde ervaring van visueel gestremde dansers en hulle siende dansmaats wat aan inklusiewe sosiale baldans en Latyns-Amerikaanse dans deelneem. Die deelnemers was lede van die Differently-abled Dance Class (gestremde dansklas) wat aangebied is deur die dansvereniging van ’n universiteit in die Wes-Kaap, Suid-Afrika. Hierdie kwalitatiewe studie is uitgevoer binne die teoretiese raamwerk van die sosiale teorie van gestremdheid. Metode: Die prosesse van data-insameling en data-analise is in ooreenstemming met die beginsels van interpretatiewe fenomenologiese analise uitgevoer. Die steekproef het bestaan uit nege deelnemers (d.i. vier visueel gestremde dansers en vyf van hulle siende dansmaats) met wie ek semi-gestruktureerde, in-diepte individuele onderhoude gevoer het. Bevindings en besprekings: Die ervarings van die visueel gestremde en siende deelnemers aan dans het bestaan uit die akkumulasie van bevindings hierin bespreek. Die dansers het baie fisiese, sosiale en sielkundige voordele, en uitdagings, voortspruitend uit hulle deelname aan inklusiewe sosiale dans beskryf. Dit kom voor of hierdie voordele die dansers se volgehoue deelname aan die klas aangemoedig en bevorder het. Baldans en Latyns-Amerikaanse dans is deur beide die visueel gestremde en siende dansers beskryf as dat dit ’n omgewing was waarin hetero-normatiewe, stereotipiese genderrolle gehandhaaf is, ongeag van die danser se gestremdheid of nie-gestremdheid. Die visueel gestremde dansers het ’n begeerte uitgedruk om goed te lyk en om in te pas by hulle siende dansmaats, so wel as om hulle gestremdheid so ver as moontlik weg te steek tydens uitvoerings voor ’n gehoor. As sodanig, blyk dit dat hierdie dansers glo dat die samelewing die verwagting op hulle afdwing om siende voor te kom wanneer hulle aan die visuele vertoning van dans deelneem. Dit wil voorkom of die kwessies van inklusie en toeganklikheid ’n twispunt tussen die visueel gestremde en siende dansers was, met die laasgenoemde wat glo dat die dansvereniging moontlik ’n hoër vlak van inklusie behaal het as wat die eersgenoemde beskryf het. Die deelnemers het wel saamgestem dat meer gedoen kan word om die verdere inklusie en integrasie van al die dansers in die vereniging te bewerkstellig, ongeag van hulle gestremdheid of nie-gestremdheid. Dit wil voorkom of om te dans met ’n visueel gestremde dansmaat die siende deelnemers se vooroordele nie net oor hulle visueel gestremde dansmaats bevraagteken en verander het nie, maar ook oor die mense met gestremdhede waarmee hulle buite die dansvereniging in kontak gekom het. Hierdie verandering ten opsigte van sodanige vooroordele kan egter die bewondering en idealisering van visueel gestremde individue tot gevolg hê, wat duidelik geblyk het uit die siende deelnemers se verslae. Insigte in die wêreld van gestremdheid is bespreek aan die hand van die verslae wat die deelnemers gegee het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98835
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