Performing Illness: A Dialogue About an Invisibly Disabled Dancing Body

Frontiers in Psychology 12:566520 (2021)
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This conversational opinion article between two parties – Kate, a disability performance scholar and Sarah, an interdisciplinary artist-scholar with lived experience of disability – considers the dancing body as redeemer in the specific case of a dancer experiencing ‘chemo fog’, or Chemotherapy-Related Cognitive Impairment (CRCI) after undergoing oncological treatments for Hodgkin Lymphoma. This work draws on Pini’s own lived experience of illness (Pini & Pini, 2019) in dialogue with Maguire-Rosier’s study of dancers with hidden impairments (Gibson & Maguire-Rosier, 2020). In an exploratory account based on an interview with one another, the authors ask: when our senses and perceptions of ourselves and the world we become are obfuscated, what is the nature of the new relationship between the performing self and its absent body/mind/world? How can we shape our narrative and articulate who we are, what we are doing or where we are going, if we are moving in the ‘fog’? Our discussion reveals how Pini’s dancing body elucidates healing, while recovering an agentic perspective in her experience of alienation and frustration tied to chemo fog and related impairments. With this work we offer an original perspective on how a dancing body can resist theoretical diagnosis.

Author's Profile

Sarah Pini
University of Southern Denmark


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