Inclusive Dance Practices For Social And Cultural Adaptation Of People With Disabilities


Modern society is actualized by an inclusive space; various inclusive practices are being developed, festivals are held, scientific and practical conferences are devoted to this subject, training seminars are organized, and educational programs are implemented. One of the most socially significant problems is the problem of attitude towards disabled people. Creating an inclusive space is an important step towards improving the overall quality of life of citizens. Despite the fact that in the world a social model for understanding disability and, associated with it, the inclusion of people with disabilities in society has been established, unfortunately, in Russian reality, the desire for segregation still prevails. In Krasnoyarsk the projects to support people with different diagnoses are being implemented, but most often they focus on financial assistance to such families, which is certainly important, but in addition to raising funds, it is necessary to raise public awareness of these diseases, reduce communication barriers to socializing with such people and perception of them. The inclusive dance theater “Freedom” is one of the conceptual approaches to solve these problems. Dance practices in the field of inclusive education are discussed in the article. Issues of inclusion, accessibility and popularization of motor practices in the context of art and therapy are considered.

Keywords: Integrationinclusioninclusive danceimprovisationspecial health needs


In Krasnoyarsk 62 167 people of all disability groups, 3 897 families with disabled children are registered, 1 267 children live in neuropsychiatric boarding schools (data from the main department of social protection of Krasnoyarsk).

Unfortunately, very often meeting a person with a disability, people do not know and do not understand how to react, cannot penetrate this person’s world and begin to stare down this person, and sometimes even try not to look at him. Suvorov ( 2013) notes that the inclusion of a person in society implies the ability to interact with a wider circle of people of different memberships.

Speaking of inclusion, it is important in principle to change the public consciousness. We need to learn how to take for granted the characteristics of each child and stop "sticking labels." There is a question "How to communicate with people with disabilities?”. It should be noted that the opportunities for such people are not limited, and sometimes even expanded. Inclusion begins in the head and understanding and accepting equality is its way!

The inclusion policy declares the need to change society and its institutions in such a way that they favor the inclusion of any person (people of a different race, religion, culture, people with disabilities) ( Portnyagina & Kovalchuk, 2019).

Alekhina ( 2014) notes that the implementation of the idea of ​​inclusion is not only “incorporating” it into our lives, but also “getting involved” in it, learning to interact with others, to be open, to accept the characteristics of other people. Inclusion is based on an ideology that excludes any discrimination against people with disabilities, as well as ensuring that they are treated as equals ( Mikhalchenko, 2012).

The understanding inclusion as a special culture of society ( Tokareva, 2018) should combine a system of unconscious positions, methods and models of behavior, attitudes and values, which will be a stable condition for the development of public consciousness.

Problem Statement

The concepts of "integration" and "inclusion" are very often synonymous for people. In this case, inclusion has a fundamental difference. Integration is the “the process of combining two or more things in an effective way”, where the difference between people is recognized and accepted into the common system without changing it. In turn, inclusion is understood as “the act of including”; everybody should be able to use the same facilities, take part in the same activities, and enjoy the same experience, including people who have disability or other disadvantages, people are not divided into groups based on their characteristics ( Mitchell, 2011).

Thus, we can make a distinction between these concepts. “Integration” is mainly aimed at supporting the individual to integrate into the existing social society, while “inclusion” is designed to create a climate of flexibility and sensitivity in society for all people without exception ( Shemakov, 2017).

We give accent to the following problems:

  • the presence of communication barriers in socializing of people without disabilities with people with disabilities;

  • lack of dance inclusive sites;

  • lack of a professional training program for dancer-volunteers to work in an inclusive space;

  • lack of specialized equipment for dance classes.

Research Questions

Families raising children with disabilities will be able to assess their abilities and capabilities of their child, as well as get acquainted with possible forms of interaction through dance practices and the development of social and cultural adaptation in children. A dance practice for each child provides the following opportunities:

  • development of awareness of one’s own body and the possibilities of its use;

  • development of social communication skills, adequate expression of their emotions, interaction with peers and other people;

  • disclosure of creative potential, increasing motivation to participate in society.

The main target groups involved in dance practices are the following: children and youth with disabilities and without disabilities from 7 to 25 years old, 6 children from SNS "Solnyshko", 7 children of various disabilities: cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, development delay, autism; 3 dancers without disabilities; 9 volunteers from among the students.

The inclusive dance theater is aimed at the social and cultural adaptation of children with disabilities through the creation of an inclusive dance environment and allows solving the following problems: organizing an inclusive space that allows conducting dance classes with children with disabilities, aimed at their social and cultural adaptation through dance; conducting dance laboratories with elements of a master class; creation of a teacher education program; training of volunteer dancers.

Purpose of the Study

To create an inclusive space, it is necessary to develop and apply specific solutions that allow each person to participate equally in public life ( Babanskaya, 2017).

To solve the problems of inclusion, it is necessary to develop an inclusive dance theater “Freedom” - the only inclusive dancing group in Krasnoyarsk that unites children from different social institutions to form social and cultural skills among the target audience.

It is necessary to adapt the room where the dance training is held in the material and technical aspect, the building itself must have special conditions for people with disabilities, it is also important to have sufficient equipment for dancing, have trained personnel, etc. ( Blinova, 2017).

Starovoit ( 2016), referring to foreign experience, clarifies that in order to solve the stated problems, a special attention should be paid to three interrelated aspects: the creation of an inclusive culture, the development of inclusive policies and the implementation of inclusive practices. Thus, the inclusive dance theater “Freedom” from the perspective of introducing inclusive dance practice is the link that allows focusing on other aspects, solving the problems of inclusion and becoming the fundamental basis for creating an inclusive culture in society ( Seagal, 2014).

Research Methods

Several years ago, Krasnoyarsk became the venue for the International Dance Inclusive Festival, in which the team took part as organizers and volunteers, and they faced the problem that there was no one to represent our Krasnoyarsk Territory. Due to this fact an idea of ​​creating an inclusive dance space in our region appeared. An idea came up, people were ready to work, an application was submitted to all social institutions, a positive response was received ... and that’s all! There was no room, trained specialists, trained volunteers, equipment for classes, etc.

The first organizations which we began to collaborate with were the Social Center “Raduga” and Krasnoyarsk Foundation “Open Hearts”, and they helped us get a room for classes. The first charity concert was organized, in which the children of the group performed together with other creative organizations known in Krasnoyarsk. Participating in various venues, they began to develop relationships with other public organizations, foundations, and social institutions.

The main question was how the format of such a social project can exist and be provided. At the initial stage of creating the dance project “Freedom”, we faced with the fact that the work system of charitable foundations and rehabilitation centers is structured in such a way that classes are held only for those children who are assigned to this center or live in it.

The questions immediately arose what to do with those children who are neither in rehabilitation centers nor trustees of funds, how to include children who live in boarding schools in an inclusive dance, how to create a full inclusion - a place where children and young people with different characteristics could intersect. All of these things emphasized the idea of ​​creating such an inclusive space.

Dance is one of the most magical ways to express oneself. An inclusive dance is an opportunity to prove oneself. The task of the leader is to create a dance plot based on the personality of a particular dancer, and also uses his/her maximum potential, while avoiding the excessive use of tricks to the detriment of the quality and fullness of the movement.

The most important thing is to convey to the dancer the idea that you need to concentrate more on the dance as a way of communicating with a partner, subject or audience, rather than on presenting yourself, your choreography. The dancer tells the viewer a story, and does not present himself. Children are able to keep simple actions in their memory, especially if they reveal the character's personality in dance ( Zinkevich-Evstigneeva, 1998).

Dancing in an inclusive space helps to fully or partially restore a person’s lost abilities. Dancing helps children with disabilities to reveal themselves in a completely new capacity for relatives and friends, acquaintances and non-acquaintances, and especially themselves. This is especially important for a family with a special child, since the task of their psychological and pedagogical support is solved here ( Posysoev, 2011). Participation in creative and concert activities, festivals - from regional to international level - not only push walls, but also give new horizons. However, this dance is called an inclusive dance not only because people with and without disabilities participate in it. It unites a variety of people, different in education, social status, sphere of interests, etc., who love dancing.

During the tailoring of choreographic classes according to the author’s methodology, the following conditions are met:

  • The construction of classes with the ability to ensure the full development of the child.

  • The selection of dance movements that contribute to the stimulation of mental activity.

  • The development of the need for independent repetition and study of dance movements.

  • The use of auxiliary means (balls, hand fans, paper, floor, chair, etc.). Techner and Martinsen ( 2017) recommend using pictorial symbols of communication, Primak's verbal cubes, etc.

  • The use of various teaching methods:

    • the method “from simple to complex” (splitting one dance combination into several elements);

    • the method of "verbal impact" (giving meaning to the movement), we faced with the problem of poor memorization and assimilation of movements, so each movement is remembered as a separate concept;

    • the method of display (elaboration of the emotional component), the structure of the material and the presentation of new material is carefully thought out, the teacher performs movements with the children in order to captivate them and strengthen the emotional-motor response to music;

    • the method of musical inclusion (music, as an incentive to action);

    • the game method (dances alternate with games, as it allows children to relax, to raise their mood and develop emotionality);

    • the improvisation method (this is a form of thinking, the ability to hear one’s body, space and partners and respond to it, whereby attention to activity and the responsiveness of the body to signals, external and internal, play a big role, it’s an opportunity to be different!);

    • the method of partnership interaction (the interaction of a partner with a disability and a dancing volunteer) to accept their body and the body of a partner, through touching, continuing movement, mirroring (Figure 01 ).

Figure 1: Methods of training in an inclusive dance space
Methods of training in an inclusive dance space
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The project team conducted a social survey on the basis of the Children's Development Center “Grenada” as part of integrated shifts for children with disabilities, from 06/01/2019 till 08/26/2019. The survey involved 110 families with children with disabilities; according to the results of the survey 57% of respondents expressed a desire to participate in the project as dancers of a dance theater.


At present, the author’s case on organizing and conducting charity events and festivals is being implemented. Children with disabilities are recruited to dance groups, free of charge, and children without disabilities, on a paid basis. Dance labs and workshops, participation in projects with partners are held. The author’s methodology was developed for classes in an inclusive space through social and cultural animation with volunteers. And most importantly, it allows building a new picture of the world and plans for the future ( Seligman & Darling, 2007).

In the project there are 46 participants, six pre-made dance routines with costumes and decorations. We have participated in regional, national and international competitions. We have won the following awards: Grand prix of the international festival Inclusive dance and the All-Russian festival "Personality vertical ", 6 diplomas of laureates of the 1st degree, and numerous diplomas of the 2nd and 3rd degree, as well as special prizes in the form of a music center for classes and two specialized dance strollers.

The social project “The Magic Inside Me” of the inclusive dance theater “Freedom” and the volunteers of the Institute of Social Engineering of Reshetnev Siberian State University of Science and Technology entered the final of the All-Russian Accelerator of Social Initiatives RAISE, season 2018/2019.

At the extramural stage of the “RAISE Tournament”, the team took the 3rd place, which made it possible to choose a league at the intramural stage to protect the project. 32 teams from different regions of Russia took part in the final, which were divided into 5 leagues by drawing. Our team chose the first league of “Greek gods”, where they participated third. In this league, the guys won a landslide victory - took the first place and went to the super final. The team also received an award in the nomination "Best Information Company".

The Super Final was held on 04.25.2019 at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation. We reached the top three winners and became vice champions, silver medalists. A special prize was also received from the Skolkovo Open University, with an invitation to study under the Technological Entrepreneurship program, and a certificate in the amount of 10,000 rubles.

The first serious financial investment in our project was participation in Moscow festival. To understand the complexity of participation the problems which we need to overcome will be shown: an accompanying person travels with each child, that is, 4 tickets are required for one member of the team, as well as additional accommodation, tailoring of costumes and the production of decorations and props. We are talking about the amount of a million rubles. We received part of the money from public organizations and sponsors of our city. Charity fairs were organized, in which our team performed, and parents sold handmade souvenirs. We participated in contests where cash prizes were received.

We found a partner in Moscow represented by the Hilton hotel chain that provided us with free accommodation for several competitive days, as well as the Transformation psychological center, represented by makeup artists and hairdressers to prepare children for the festival.


The implementation of the project will increase the number of regular participants - 50 people, where 35 children with disabilities, 10 volunteer dancers, 2 choreographer teachers, 1 teacher of acting skills, 1 project manager; 1 leader.

At the moment, we successfully offer our case on the organization and holding of charity events and festivals. We enroll in dance groups children with and without disabilities, on a fee basis. We conduct dance laboratories and master classes. We participate in projects with our partners. We developed an author’s methodology for classes in an inclusive space through social and cultural animation with volunteers.

We deal with the introduction of additional groups: groups of the first year of study and concert groups; training of volunteers and dancers who are ready to work in such a space; development of equipment necessary for classes: lifts, hand trainers, traction joints for strollers; creating a theater space where interactive performances aimed at creating without barrier communication and removing labels will be held, as well as the possibility of further employment of dancers in the theater; conducting trainings and seminars for parents of children with and without disabilities.

Participation in competitions, conducting various dance events is educational in nature, forms a culture of inclusive dance community, and increases the level of social adaptation.


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21 October 2020

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Economics, social trends, sustainability, modern society, behavioural sciences, education

Cite this article as:

Portniagina, A. M., Livak, N. S., & Kovalchuk, V. A. (2020). Inclusive Dance Practices For Social And Cultural Adaptation Of People With Disabilities. In I. V. Kovalev, A. A. Voroshilova, G. Herwig, U. Umbetov, A. S. Budagov, & Y. Y. Bocharova (Eds.), Economic and Social Trends for Sustainability of Modern Society (ICEST 2020), vol 90. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 755-762). European Publisher.