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DISCO ball raises awareness for disability issues through dance

For some, dancing is more than a hobby — it is a way to come together in a public space and stake a claim on the dance floor.

To do just that, on Tuesday the Diversity and Identity Studies Collective Graduate Student Caucus and Disability Studies Program will be hosting the DISCO Ball, a night of celebration with the Society for Disability Studies.

“One of the things we’re trying to do with the DISCO Ball is to think about a celebration and an event to come together and affirm community support across lines of race, gender, disability, sexuality,” said Margaret Price, director of the Disability Studies Program. “To think not really in terms of isolated identities, but to think in terms of building coalitions and a broad community that can be mutually supportive.”

The dance will round off the 18th annual Multiple Perspectives on Access, Inclusion, and Disability conference, which advocates for inclusion, equality and accessibility for people who have disabilities.

“People with disabilities are told by society that their bodies cannot behave in particular ways or that their bodies cannot do the same kinds of things,” said Zachary Harvat, vice president of the DISCO graduate caucus. “Dancing specifically has been a historical, powerful way to challenge the stereotypes and also say, ‘Yes, my body does move differently. Isn’t that beautiful?’ to take power in that difference.”

Mimi Khúc, an Asian American Studies, disability studies, and queer of color feminism scholar, will give the keynote address to kickoff the evening.

“It’s important especially in identity studies fields to not only [talk] about some of the serious issues we face as minorities. It’s important also to take pleasure in the things we do and have fun,” said Pritha Prasad, a graduate student in English and president of the DISCO graduate caucus. “That is also a form of resistance.”

Since the last held dance was at the Society for Disability Studies Conference 2015 in Atlanta, Price said she is excited for Ohio State to have the opportunity to connect over important issues.

“The Disability Studies Program has been working hard to ensure that our campus can come together around issues of disability, mental health, and community care,” Price said. “We’re so excited for this event — it offers our community support and a chance for connection.”

Dancing or not, everyone will be in full support of one another.

“It’s not a matter of being incomplete versus complete.” Prasad said. “It’s a matter of actually conceiving the body in a different way.”

The event will take place  at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday on the 11th floor of Thompson Library. Admission is free for students, but registration is required.

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