Company paved way for 'physically integrated' dance

November 17, 2011 10:03:55 AM PST
This weekend, a world renowned integrated dance company will be performing at the Auditorium Theatre. It features performers with and without disabilities.

Axis Dance Company started in 1987 in the San Francisco Bay area. It has paved the way for a powerful contemporary dance form referred to as "physically integrated" dance.

Axis Dance Company has challenged traditional dances with dancers with physical disabilities around the world.

Last week, a panel discussion called "From Aspiration to Artist" was held at Chicago's Access Living. The panel included dancers with physical disabilities, representatives from dance companies and experts in the field of disability and the arts.

Elizabeth Milliman is managing director of Joffrey Ballet-Academy of Dance.

"I think physically integrated dance is a really phenomenal new dimension of the dance world," Milliman said.

For many years, Joffrey Ballet has included dancers with disabilities in their holiday production of "The Nutcracker."

"It's really a wonderful opportunity for the Joffrey Ballet to really make a statement about the importance of inclusivity and physically integrated dance as an important part of the field," said Milliman.

Alana Wallace is founder and artistic director of Dance Detour, a Chicago physically integrated dance company.

"I love the fact that there are no real rules for integrated dance," Wallace said, "and we just play and move with each other, and each time we partner we learn something different depending on the varying ability of the dancers we're working with."

For integrated dance student Jessica Martin, being able to be part of a group is important.

"Because it lets me have my own freedom out of your wheelchair, and it's very important because it helps you see that there are possibilities other than being in your wheelchair," Martin said.

"I think they're so successfully because they found a winning formal. They got Judy Smith the artistic director, who is just brilliant and has a wonderful vision about integrated dance," said Wallace.

Two spectacular performances of the Axis Dance Company will be at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University Saturday, November 19, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 20, at 2 p.m.

For more information, including tickets, go to www.ticketmaster.com/auditorium or www.axisdance.org.


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