Despite advances in other forms of dance it is still unusual for disabled people to be involved in South Asian dance, as the authors of an absorbing and wonderfully positive new book readily admit. In Making Space, Francois Matarasso and Bisakka Sarker set out to show how to involve disabled people, and their attitudes and methods have relevance for all teachers of dance.
Making Space is the direct result of a successful initiative organised by East Midlands Shape in 1993, a series of projects across the region designed to make South Asian dance accessible to all disabilities. Access and opportunities were stressed and no assumptions about the attitudes and responses of disabled people were made.
The book explains how to set up workshops and in a helpful section all the "What happens if . . . ?" questions are anticipated and are given supportive answers with the strong, purposeful attitude that is shown throughout. Every eventuality is covered, from what to do if some individuals don't appear interested in dance to what to do if you arrive to find the hall floor is littered with broken glass.
In an endlessly quotable section on performing, the authors discuss the nature of performances and the expectations of participants and audiences. They end by gently reminding readers that for many just the thrill of participation will be enough. This is a rich source of ideas and is a book which tingles with enthusiasm.
o Making Space is available from ADiTi, Willowfield Street, Bradford BD7 2AH, Pounds 4.95