You Can Dance! Wheelchair Dancing

Sep 23, 2014
Tagged with: You Can Dance! Wheelchair Dancing

Losing independence can be a difficult experience for anybody. It may seem like your options are drastically limited in many ways, but luckily, there are tons of activities that can be done using a wheelchair that will keep you just as active as anybody else. One way that’s growing in popularity is wheelchair dancing.

What is it?

Wheelchair dancing is a way for people with disabilities to stay physically active and fit while providing a great opportunity to meet others with the same interest. It was originally founded in Sweden during the late 1960s to assist in rehabilitation and for recreational purposes but has since drastically grown in popularity in places all over the world. It offers an outlet for both recreational dancers as well as competitive ones, with world championships having been hosted for decades at different locations around the globe. Aside from being a fun way to compete and let off steam, it also gives people a great opportunity to increase their flexibility, range of motion, and coordination.

Who’s it for?

Many people assume that this style of dancing is only for people who use wheelchairs, but this is simply not the case. It’s a partner style dance that has dedicated routines that include multiple combinations of people with a range of different abilities. This style of dancing is used to help people returning from inpatient rehab centers in Utah and other areas as well. Now the style has evolved to the point of different wheelchair dancing styles. There are three main categories when it comes to dance styles.

The first, and one of the more popular options, is combination dancing. This style features dancing with an able bodied partner.

Duo dancing is the second type, which involves two wheelchair users dancing together.

Formation dancing involves either four, six, or eight different couples dancing together in a formation.

What Type of Wheelchair Dancing is there?

Dancing is an incredibly varied activity, with countless different styles and inspirations, and wheelchair dancing is no different. Practitioners of the sport will be able to practice the tango, waltzes, foxtrots, rumba, samba, ballroom dancing, as well as many other styles It’s not just a past time, either, as wheelchair dancing is a very competitive sport that has championships all over the globe. The setting changes, as social gatherings tend to be held in a ballroom, while some competitive dancers will practice on a stage outfitted with a ramp or wheelchair lift.

Popular Centers for Wheelchair Dancing

While it’s true that wheelchair dancing was founded in Sweden during the 1960s, it has since spread across the globe. There are numerous other hotspots located throughout the world, including places like Japan and Germany.

Where It’s Spreading

Wheelchair dancing is spreading all over the world! But it’s beginning to pick up some considerable popularity in the United States ever since 2008 when the University of Delaware created a program for it through a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. That program is called the American DanceWheels Foundation (ADF). Specifically, there has been a great increase in attention in states such as California, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The Benefits of Wheelchair Dancing

According to the ADF webpage, they partnered with a research team in 2012 to determine the activity’s therapeutic benefits and found some fantastic results. Participants were studied for a six week time frame, and the researchers discovered that there are many benefits to both physical and psychological functions.

Finding a Local Area Where You Can Wheelchair Dance

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then all you need to do is find a place offering wheelchair dance teaching services. One of the easiest ways to locate an instructor is by heading over to the American DanceWheels Foundation website, where they have a list of dancing teachers who specialize in wheelchair dancing organized by state name. Particularly, there seems to be a lot of opportunities in the states California, New York, and Pennsylvania, but there are much more.

Don’t let their name fool you, the ADF has teachers located in non-American locations as well, including teachers in countries such as Canada, England, and Russia.

If the ADF doesn’t quite have what you’re looking for, there’s no need to fear. The sport, while not a part of the official Paralympic program, is governed by the International Paralympic Committee. They have their own homepage with local committees located throughout the world. Have you ever done wheelchair dancing?

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Author: David Glenn

  • bobl07

    I have always loved to dance! I have only taken a few lessons, but being raised Hispanic, I went to many dances and I have always participated. This makes me want to go this weekend!

  • WDSA uk

    In the uk the sport is supported by the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association (uk)

  • bobl07

    Thank you for your comment.