Finding Freedom, Joy, and Empowerment Through Dance

Feb 04, 2011
Tagged with:

“Dance is not how far a child can reach their legs or arms. It is the creation, the sharing, and the partaking that is the beauty. We don’t ask how much can you move, we simply say… come dance with us.”

– Zina Bethune, founder and artistic director, Infinite Dreams (from the Infinite Dreams website)

Every once in a while you come across a program that just seems to get it all right. That’s what I was thinking as I read about Infinite Dreams, a dance program for individuals with disabilities. I must admit that I have no personal experience with them, but from what I have read, they just seem to get it. What a breath of fresh air!

I am far from a professional dancer, but there is just something so freeing about using movement to express yourself. That movement doesn’t have to be graceful or intricately choreographed, there don’t have to be any rules about how it’s supposed to look – anyone can do it in whatever way is best for them. I truly believe those things – and it seems like the people at Infinite Dreams do as well.

One of the things I really like is that they make a clear distinction between therapy/rehabilitation and participating in dance for expression, enjoyment, and physical activity.

“We always hire professional dancers because it’s a very different base from which you are drawing, as opposed to therapy – because therapy is, how many degrees does Johnny move his arm,” she said. “The basis of Infinite Dreams is about the creation of an art form. It has a therapeutic benefit inherent in it, in that Johnny, once he dreams of being a cloud and we help him float like a cloud in the air, his arm is going to move those six degrees.” (from The Daily Breeze)

They recognize that there are therapeutic benefits to dance, but that is not their primary goal. When asked about the goals, the creator of Infinite Dreams, Zina Bethune, gave the following response:

“We want these kids to have the opportunity that every child can have, which is to dance, to fly, to feel the sense of accomplishment and to share that with others. The second goal obviously is a therapeutic one, in that we want them to have more movement, and more ability, and with that a better sense of what they can do in the world. And the third part is that this creates independence, self-sufficiency, a better sense of who you are and the empowerment of who you are. And all of that plays into being part of society.” (from The Daily Breeze)

I also really appreciated the emphasis they put on the training of their instructors They are required to have years of professional work as a dancer and are then given additional training in teaching children with disabilities. The experience is described by one instructor as follows:

“We had like a mock class with teachers, and that actually kind of scared me a little bit,” she said. “Because the way they set it up was, you might have a kid that’s deaf, a kid that’s in a wheelchair and a kid that’s severely autistic, and you’ve got to be able to handle all of them at once,” she said. “I remember thinking, `Omigod, how do you do this?’ But then the second step was I went with Zina and helped her with one of her classes, and I realized, you know, they’re just kids, they’re so genuine and I work really well with kids.” (from The Daily Breeze)

Check out the video below and their website (http://bethuneinfinitedreams.org/home.html) for more information.

I look forward to the development of more and more programs like this around the country!

Author: Carolyn