Weave was formed through an Arts Access project in 1977, but the company's work is driven by challenging conventional ways of seeing dance and disability. It celebrates the different ways that people with various abilities dance, move and interact with each other. There's a strong sense of empowerment when you see someone with a disability leading actors with a range of different abilities and how they relate to each other in a space. It can be an unusual experience for audiences to see a group of people with disabilities in a performance where they worked with each other in a collaborative way. This is a very different approach than them merely participating in a program which is designed by someone who doesn't have a disability and who works for a council or some other community organisation.
I love going to weave, says Emily Ardley, who is a member of the Weave Ensemble.
They treat us all the same because even though we can't do all the same things, it doesn't really matter. It's like a family to me. We get to have new experiences and work with different people from different companies so it's not like the same thing each time.
Greg Muir agrees.
It means that I'm a part of a theatre company and I'm proud of this. It makes me feel like my speech is improving when I'm acting all the time. I have noticed that I don't stutter when I say my lines, which is really good.
Sarah Mainwaring says that she enjoyed working as part of the Weave Ensemble because she loves working with different people with whatever disability they have.
I find that fantastic to work with everyone, because I enjoy a range of disabilities.
Weave grants a community where everyone is welcomed and where people can explore with each other without any discrimination, says Antony Riddle.
I also feel like it provides many objectives.
Zoe Hunter explains that she felt like Weave is a very supportive community.
I like Weave for what it is and what it is not. Weave does weave differences. Janice provides a gentle and open space for everyone's needs to be met, so everyone in the group can contribute to creative discussions.
Karen Veidhuizen mentioned that the thing she found most fascinating about her experience with Weave, was that she was
encouraged to focus on and develop what I can do rather than what I can't.
It's a rare experience to find oneself not judged or perceived with something missing or oddly different. It's quite the opposite, she says.
When I'm working with Weave, my disability becomes a unique gift, that when combined with others' creates a kaleidoscope of humanity. Even more strongly than this, the ethos of Weave is almost an unspoken 'you are an amazing unique person unlike anyone else' and as a person with a disability, this is the most empowering. It would be great if the whole world was like this.
Janice Florence, who is the Artistic Director of Weave, commented that it was important that someone with a disability continue to lead Weave Movement Theatre, as it is unusual for someone with a disability to lead companies when the majority of the actors are also disabled.
For more information about Weave Movement Theatre, visit http://weavemovementtheatre.com.au/