Quick Response Grants project Limits, choreographed and performed by Bonnie Curtis, highlights accessibility in the arts, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to explore important topics through an artistic lens. Limits is a solo dance theatre performance that delves into identity and societal expectations and examines limitations, stereotypes and experience as a female living with disability.
Recorded in June 2021, during The Flying Nun Season, Limits shares the story of a grotesque creature navigating the world through the lens of a stereotypical “hot-body”. A creature trying to live up to the expectations of the world around her, riddled with insecurity and self-hate.
The performance was recorded in front of a live audience, going on to be developed into an accessible broadcast for the On-Demand streaming of the performance. The project was then available in the On-Demand format through Brand X’s Vimeo account, including captions and audio descriptions for those with sight and hearing disabilities until December 2021.
Bonnie strongly believes that online, accessible performances have an important place in the arts landscape. As someone who recognises the importance of creating art that is accessible for everyone to enjoy, the project was an opportunity for Bonnie to work closely on accessibility of the arts, learning the intricacies of audio describing and creation captions.
“This was a valuable learning experience for me as a producer of accessible online content,” Bonnie said.
“This project will help me achieve my goal of providing an accessible and inclusive online performance that is accessible to people with visual and hearing impairments.”
Despite the complexities of audio describing visual production, audience members valued the opportunity to have access to the performance. Feedback from the performance, both live and via streaming, was overwhelmingly positive.
“Dance is always quite hard to audio describe, but I feel the describer struck a good balance between describing choreography, production elements, and the different coloured lighting that Bonnie was illuminated by at different points of the performance,” one audience member said of the performance.
The Quick Response Grant played a vital role in enabling the project to move forward, amplifying the publicity of the project, reaching new audiences, and promoting her advocacy for accessibility in the arts.
“This project employed me for a number of weeks during the 2021 NSW lockdown. It raised my profile as a regional artist and contributed to me receiving a Createability internship with Merrigong Theatre Company,” Bonnie commented.
“The publicity garnered by the event also resulted in an inclusive dance school contacting me to discuss future work opportunities teaching their students. They stated they contacted me specifically because I had shared my disability publicly and advocated for access, through Limits on-demand.”
Bonnie’s work has gone beyond Australia, with an excerpt of the audio described version of the project screened in Barcelona, as part of a collaboration between On The Cusp (AU) and Atelier G̈uell (ES). Director of Atelier Guell, Marc Hors, says, “The screening was a great success. There was over 90 min of short films, people were very impressed by the work of Bonnie Curtis.”
This project has been created with the support of Annandale Creative Arts Centre, Arts on Tour, Brand X, City of Sydney, Create NSW, Critical Path, DirtyFeet, March Dance and the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, provided through Regional Arts Australia, and in NSW through Regional Arts NSW.