When Raisa Proud was little, she asked her parents how big she would grow.
They said they don’t know.
“This is absolutely true,” said Mr. Proud.
“It slowly materialized that this is what I always intended to do.”
Prowd has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.
“I feel great in my body. This body takes me to places,” said Proud.
“It doesn’t work like an average height person, but I understand how this body works.”
Proud, now 55, is a dancer and theater performer who explores the uniqueness of her body in relation to other bodies and spaces.
Proud returned from performing in Germany and became one of the first artists to join The Warehouse Residency, an art project led by the deaf and disabled at the City of Melbourne Art House.
“When we see people with short stature or dwarfism in the media, it can be inspirational or it can be like a really sad, tragic story, with no middle ground. appear.
“Being able to use my voice and my body to say something in my own way is very important to me.”
Proud likes to use the term dwarfism to describe his disability.
“In Australia we call it short stature, but personally, when I tell someone my access requirements, they just think I’m short,” she said.
“If I tell them I’m a kind of dwarf, they know right away what that means, so if I say, ‘I need a footstool,’ they’ll tell me why.” I know.
“We have always been part of the art”
Growing up in rural Victoria, the eldest of seven children, Proud had no formal training in dance, except for a year of ballet when he was six.
“I was in Alice in Wonderland and I was Dormouse and Oyster… I did the only solo,” she laughed.
“That memory never left and really ignited my hunger. I loved it.”
After school, she pursued various jobs and was busy with marriage and children.
Proud, who is in her 40s, attended a movement theater class for people with and without disabilities.
“I’ve never felt so young, never been so excited to be able to move my body and discover what this body can do.”
Since then she has participated in many inclusive performance ensembles in Australia and that experience gave her the ‘courage’ to start an internship at an inclusive theater company in Germany.
For Proud, these opportunities show that more arts groups are beginning to take an interest in the unique works of artists with disabilities.
“We’re still trying to build momentum, but we’ve noticed opportunities opening up and artists with disabilities being seen as artists.
As part of the warehouse residency, each artist will receive three months of support to develop their art practice.
Kath Duncan, a member of the Artshouse Creative Advisory Group, said the residency was “groundbreaking.”
“The whole idea was to create something completely new in Australia,” Duncan said.
“We realized there was this huge gap in the market for artists with all these amazing skills. They’re beyond emergence, but still unknown.”
An artist with disabilities himself, Duncan understands the difficulties artists with disabilities face in entering the mainstream art space, and said every opportunity is “hard work”. .
Duncan said, “The disabled and deaf have a special reason to speak up and speak out to reveal a world that has hitherto not always been pleasant and to emphasize the survival of others.” I think there is,” he said.
“It’s really heartwarming not only to provide great opportunities for artists, but to open up creative possibilities for the audience as well.”
Proud said the residency gives artists with disabilities a funded opportunity to get their work out there with the support they need.
“We’ve always been part of the art, but it took society a while to get up and take notice.”
The residency gave Prowd the opportunity to develop an idea he had been thinking about for 10 years.
Through dance, spoken word, projection and sculpture, she finds other ways to express difference.
She is collaborating with sculptor Pimpisa Timparit, who made a plaster replica of Proud’s body.
“I’ve never seen a mannequin that looks like me, so I’m making a body cast for myself,” Proud said.
“It’s exciting to see my body in 3D for the first time. I’ve seen myself in photos and videos, and this will actually be in 3D.”
Prowd was also able to work with composer and sound designer Dan West, who created music to accompany her movements and dances.
“The residency gave me the time, space and support to bring all these elements together,” said Proud.
Living with dwarfism isn’t always “sun and roses,” and Proud isn’t shy about some of the more confrontational aspects of her art practice.
“It sucks to be 3 foot 10.5 one day,” she said.
“This is my skin, my body, and the journey to get there.”
Proud ultimately said she wanted people to see that she was “really happy” and that living with dwarfism was “a fascinating and really good journey.”
“What a life, at this point in my life, at this age, trying to do what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.
“How wonderful is that?”