Tagged with: accessibility disabilities wheelchair
“You’re a walkie and I’m a wheelie,” Mollie said to me.
“I’m a what?”
“A walkie. I’m a wheelie.”
Mollie, my new dance partner, and I, were two of the 30 dancers from around the world who gathered for the sixth annual AXIS Dance Intensive held in their Oakland, CA, studios. Having never been called a walkie before, I told Mollie, “I think this is going to be a great week. It’s only the first few minutes and I’ve already learned something new!”
Could I have been more right about the week sprawled in front of us? Every day was an adventure in movement and contact. We were invited to take demonstrated movements and translate them into our own bodies. Judith Smith, the Artistic Director of AXIS, told us, “I like translating movements into my body rather than having to adapt movements from your body.” How freeing my body and the other bodies found translation! Rather than trying to do what someone else had done, we found how a curve moving in a line worked in our bodies or how moving across the floor could mean staying on the floor or bouncing off the walls or … Translation = Freedom!
The freedom to explore and the time to do it was one of the best experiences of the week. We partnered with someone and were asked to touch our foreheads together. From this point of contact, we were instructed to maintain connected through our heads and move or not move. For ten gorgeous minutes, my partner, Tanya and I, sat with our heads touching, breathing, and barely moving. Nearly two months later, I can still recall her warm breath on my shoulder, and how safe and cradled I felt paying such close attention to another human being.
What does physically integrated dance mean to you? AXIS asked us, the 30 Summer Dance Intensive participants. I know this might sound silly, but to me, physically integrated dance means heaven. Looking around that studio, watching people in and out of wheelchairs, with and without crutches, walking with walkers and without, I thought we all belong here and we have each brought a unique gift. Our unity depends on each person’s unique translation of movement.
Devlin, a young woman with a visual impairment talked about how much she has loved dancing her whole life, but how hard it has been as the only person with a disability in her dance classes. Her running internal monologue was full of put downs toward herself. At AXIS she shared, “I have not had one negative thought about myself this whole week!”
What a gift it was to hear that! What an honor to be part of the AXIS Summer Dance Intensive where all bodies were welcomed and where we claimed our birthright: Dancing!
Please visit the AXIS website www.axisdance.org to learn more about this ground-breaking, innovative dance company! Maybe you will even be inspired to apply for the 2014 Summer Dance Intensive?
Photo of 2013 Summer Dance Intensive, Participants and Instructors