Children's perceptions of disability in the context of elementary school dance education


  • Michelle R. Zitomer University of Alberta


inclusive dance education, children’s attitudes, disability perspectives


This study applied a relational ethics lens to investigate the perceptions of disability of elementary school children without disabilities within their dance education contexts. 14 children between the ages 8 and 11 from five elementary schools participated. A qualitative interpretivist approach guided the study. Data collection involved two small group semi-structured interviews, a drawing activity, class observation, and researcher field notes. Data analysis followed thematic analysis guidelines. Findings are conceptualized based on four themes: (a) disability as limited ability; (b) difference as normalized; (c) dance as expression of uniqueness; and (d) classmates as helpers. While understanding disability as a limitation, participation in a dance education environment that encouraged collaborative creative movement exploration contributed to these children’s learning to view difference as ordinary, and appreciate every person’s unique ways to dance.

Author Biography

Michelle R. Zitomer, University of Alberta

Michelle is a PhD candidate in the department of Elementary Education at the University of Alberta. This paper is one of three articles comprising her dissertation work which explores how inclusive dance education environments are created in elementary schools. Michelle holds an undergraduate degree in dance education from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and an MA in Kinesiology and Physical Education from McGill University. She has been teaching ballet, modern dance, jazz, and creative movement for 15 years and also presented independent choreography work.


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