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13 Questions: dancer Caroline Bowditch

by Ivy Broadhead

22nd September 2010

A decade ago Caroline Bowditch was living on the other side of the world, and as a wheelchair user, saw a career in dance as nothing more than a pipedream. Fast forward to 2010 and she’s swapped her native Australia for the UK, and has a string of performances under her belt including 2010 dates at the Edinburgh Fringe and London's Liberty Festival.
Caroline Bowditch
The bulk of Caroline's work is with the Scottish Dance Theatre (SDT) in Dundee, under the rather James Bond-sounding job title of ‘Dance Agent for Change.' But to me, this woman is more than just an inspiring disabled performer , she was also married to my Dad for several years.

We set the family stuff aside and talked iPhones, the Catholic Church and her new show NQR as Caroline answered my 13 Questions.

Today I'm thinking about ...

An event I was at recently, delivered by Candoco at the Laban dance centre in London. My brain is full of exciting ideas and possibilities around dance and disability in the UK.

Most people don't know ...

That I spent the first five years of my life in an agricultural college in the middle of the Australian bush, where my Dad was a lecturer. We had our own family farm as well, where my grandparents lived.

My first job ...

Was after I graduated from Deacon University in Melbourne. I worked for student services as an admin assistant, and it was a great place to start.

My strength is ...

That I think I can make people comfortable talking about uncomfortable topics. I used to work as a genetic counsellor in Australia, so that was an important skill, but it’s something I’ve definitely used since then.

My weakness is ...

That I’m good at generating ideas and starting projects, but not so good at finishing them.

My dream dinner party guests would be ...

Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, because they’re just amazing. Barbara Streisand- I love her, and Annie Lennox too. Oh and Bill Bailey and Victoria Wood. So a bit of a mixture- there’d be comedy, music, everything!
Nelson Mandela

I'd like to ban ...

The Pope. He’s a complete homophobe, and when it comes to AIDS and the issue of contraception, he’s the most irresponsible man in the world.

I wish someone would invent ...

A wheelchair that hovers. Then I could go anywhere, walking on the hills or up flights of stairs. I’m sure it’s possible; someone’s just got to pull their finger out and build it!

I couldn't live without ...

My iPhone. Maybe I could, but it is a lifeline. I’m always away from home working and touring, and my phone keeps me connected to the world.

My motto is ...

Only look forward, never look back.

I got into dancing ...

In about 1996 in Australia, working with a group of disabled people who became known as Weave Movement Theatre. I’d done a performing arts degree, so it was a really fantastic project to be involved in.
Caroline Bowditch Dancing

For me, dance is ...

Liberating, it opened up a whole new world. For the first time in my life I realised what my body was capable of, after years of being told what it can’t do. To begin with it was an indulgence, an addiction. I used to dream about being able to dance as a job, but I never thought it would happen.

My new show, NQR ...

Stands for ‘Not Quite Right,’ which it’s something doctors used to right on medical notes until about 1988, when patients got the right to access their own records. It’s a piece that I worked on with Marc Brew, another disabled dancer and choreographer, and Janet Smith, who is Artistic Director of Scottish Dance Theatre. We started thinking about how the phrase suggests that there is a right and a wrong way to be, and that really none of us are quite right.
For performance dates and to find out more about Caroline’s work, visit scottishdancetheatre.com.

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