Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Bio: Keren Zaiontz is an assistant professor at the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University. She has co-edited special issues for journals including Contemporary Theatre Review, Canadian Theatre Review and PUBLIC that variously feature the work of Alex Bulmer and Jenny Sealey, theatre artists charting new terrain for deaf- and disability-led circus arts. Keren’s recently published monograph Theatre & Festivals (Palgrave 2018) also includes forewords by Bulmer and Sealey.
Title: Against Ableist Logics: The Adaptive Body in Contemporary Circus Arts
Abstract: What does it mean to claim the circus stage as an amputee? While the emergence of so-called crip communities has been discussed in the context of cabaret, live art and film, few critics have yet to take stock of how deaf and disabled artists have intervened in the circus arts. For Circus and Its Others II, Ball and Zaiontz briefly discuss interventions in disability studies that openly counter narratives of disabled bodies as either pitiable or inspirational. Eliza Chandler refers to these dominant narratives of disability as ‘ableist logic’. In tandem with critics such as Danielle Peers, she voices the need for a ‘crip community’: a ‘desire to dwell with disability, a desire which is antagonistic to the normative desire to cure or kill disability’. Ball will discuss how ‘dwelling’ in the context of circus arts is an implicitly adaptive act – one that she seeks to extend beyond her practice to training initiatives such as Flying Footless for aerial coaches amputees. This presentation will also feature documentation of Ball’s inventive use of prosthetics in performance and a brief demonstration that points to how she upends ableist logics through silks, slings and fabric.