When I shared with you Team Hotwheelz’ beautiful wheelchair dance performance at the Abilities Expo, I was blown away by this completely novel idea to me. Sure I’d seen Artie dance on Glee, but seeing real people with disabilities doing such strong choreography–I thought something so spectacular had to be a one in a million sort of thing. From everything I’ve learned doing this blog, you’d have thought I wouldn’t underestimated the heart of the disabled community.
Wheelchair Dancing originated in Sweden in 1968 and became a sport of the Paralymics in 1998 (but is not part of the Paralympic program). The International Paralympic Committee serves as the International Federation for Wheelchair DanceSport.
The American DanceWheels Foundation, founded by two US Wheelchair DanceSport champions, trains people with diabilities and able-bodied partners in ballroom dance. They also train dance teachers and physical therapists.
– ADF hosted a 6 week dance program So You Think You CAN’T Dance with the help of Dancing with the Stars’ very own Cheryl Burke.
– ADF is also the subject of a study that concluded that this program showed significant improvement the the disabled particpants’ strength, range of motion, etc. To learn more about ADF, these benefits, and the 6 week program, you can watch this sneak peek to ADF’s documentary.
The really powerful thing about Wheelchair Ballroom is that the partner may be able-bodied or disabled. It is a great way to stay active with able-bodied loved ones, have an activity you can share, and help people become comfortable with your disability.
It is so important that it’s made it’s way all over the world!! Dance Agent for Change is a Scottish dance theatre that involves people with disabilities in dance.
The Maltese Wheelchair DanceSport Association started in 2001 and have participated in international championships. Last year they hosted their own Open Dance Spectacular, and it looks like this year they will be participating in the Manchester Grand Prix 2013 DanceSport competition. It will be held on June 30 so there’s still time to book a flight to see it yourself. 😉 😉
Look at these beautiful Kazakhstani competitors!
Branching out to other forms of dance:
- Auti Angel boasts being the first hip-hop wheelchair dancer with her group, the Colours n’ Motion Dancers.
- San Francisco is home to the acclaimed AXIS Dance Company. Founded in 1987, they produce innovative and top notch contemporary dance performances integrating all abilities. They have been featured on So You Think You Can Dance for the last two years with performances such as this:
Outside professional performances, AXIS also teaches classes! You can see if there are any wheelchair dance studios near you. California got it’s first wheelchair ballroom studio in San Diego: Absolutely DanceSport.
If you are still curious how wheelchair dance works, maybe you can try to catch the next screening of Musical Chairs. If you are in Connecticut, there will be a screening this weekend! (And in Chicago on the following weekend).
What a better way to become a World Travailler, than to travel from country to country winning wheelchair dance competitions? I think this is a great plan! Takers?