These costumes for dancers with disabilities powerfully challenge harmful stigmas

It’s essential that people with disabilities be included in the body positive movement — and a new art project titled On Display seeks to do just that. Students at NuVu Studio in Massachusetts designed gorgeous costumes for dancers with disabilities that highlight their strengths as performers and place a focus on the areas of their bodies that are affected by disability.

“[On Display] encourages viewers to look at each performer’s physical differences for longer than would normally be socially acceptable, in order to gain a deeper understanding for what life is like when you constantly feel ‘on display,'” according to a release.

NuVu artists were paired with dancers from Heidi Latsky Dance in New York City who have conditions ranging from cerebral palsy to low vision.

The artists spent time speaking with the dancers about their experiences living with their specific disability, then created an abstract wearable meant to channel the experience.

One group worked with Jerron Herman to create a wearable sculpture that represents his experience living with cerebral palsy. The condition affects Herman most severely on the left side of his body, so the wearable features a large, petal-like wing that extends from his left side.

“When speaking to Jerron, my group and I picked up on a phrase he used repeatedly,” artist Teresa Lourie writes. “The idea of ‘taking up space’ is something he has constantly found appealing throughout his life. With his disability, he found himself having to make the space he deserved because no one would do it for him.”

On Display successfully challenges the conception that physical disabilities are unattractive and should be “covered up” or “hidden” whenever possible.

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