Interview: dancer Claire Cunningham on new show Guide Gods

Interview: dancer Claire Cunningham on new show Guide Gods

The show explores the relationships people hold between disability and religion

As a dancer who performs on crutches, Claire Cunningham has explored her disability via a number of entertaining and thought-provoking shows in recent years. But it was a chance encounter in Cambodia that made her stop, think, and create a brand new show taking that exploration still further.

‘I met a disabled man who was a Buddhist,’ she recalls, ‘who told me that he attributed his disability to having done something bad in a previous life. I didn’t know how to engage with his belief, because it was so different from my own perspective on disability. It caused me to reflect on how much a product of my own society and upbringing I am.’

Inspired by her Cambodian encounter, Cunningham went on to meet with people from a range of different faiths to discuss their views on disability. The resulting conversations led to *3Guide Gods*2, a blend of live music, movement and text.

All those who heard Cunningham sing in her 2012 work, Ménage à Trois, will welcome the opportunity to hear those operatic tones again. ‘I miss singing,’ she says. ‘That was how I started as a performer. But I’m also singing because it’s my only relationship with religion. I don’t follow a faith, but was often given Christian songs to sing when I was training, and I find so much of the music incredibly beautiful. So I’m trying to understand what it means to sing this music as someone who isn’t religious.’

Greater Easterhouse Supporting Hands, Glasgow, Thu 12 Jun, then touring.

Claire Cunningham: Guide Gods

Claire Cunningham can do more things on crutches than most of us can do without them. In this new work she looks at how the major world religions view deafness and disability.

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