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The Common Language of Dance

Posted Jul 20, 2016 - 12:47pm

_ By Brooke Brown_

Dance means freedom within these walls. When you have a disability, life is all about boundaries and limitations. Boundaries are pushed whenever possible and your limitations are compensated for with the best alternative solutions that can be found. But inevitably, there always seems to be some things that remain an elusive dream. Dance, however, does not have to be one of them, as I discovered a few years ago. I’m not just referring to bopping around your house to music or cutting loose with friends during a night on the town. I’m talking about dancing with a purpose; to communicate, build relationships and find common ground with people on all mobility and ability levels- what I’ve come to know as the Integrated Dance Movement.

One day, while I was reviewing disability related content for a website project at my first job, I stumbled upon some performance videos of AXIS Dance Company. They were like a very outspoken answer to my secret prayer. I saw dancers with various disabilities and typically-Abled dancers moving together in seamless masterpieces. Each one was breathtaking for different reasons and I had to know more. With a little research, I discovered AXIS is a front runner in the Integrated Dance Movement. I immediately applied and was accepted into their 2011 Summer Intensive. Those ten days taught me that my body is capable of more than I ever imagined, movement is a language that holds no prejudices and has made a profound impact on my life ever since.

dance class

Today, I am blessed to have a hand in helping the Integrated Dance Movement thrive in Arizona as cofounder of Dance Mixability, a class/group that exists to build community across spectrums of age and ability through the shared language of dance. We are the first independent group of this kind in the state. Our mission is to break down the barriers that prevent us from moving and encourage inclusive dance through education, performance and outreach. We are modeled after AXIS Dance Company.


“As an artist working in integrated dance I think it is exciting to discover an expanding range of possibilities. As we experiment and explore together we find ways of moving that we didn’t know were possible. Choreographically, the way that you move through space in a wheelchair will be different than on foot, so it expands the options of movement,” says Allyson Yoder, the instructor for Dance Mixability.

We’ve been asked numerous times about the importance of Integrated Dance. I think facilitator Christy Dargus explains it best: “It is a non coercive, accessible space within a community that gives everyone who shows up a common goal, to create something together, and enables people who would not have ordinarily interacted to form friendships while confronting any assumptions of ability. Inclusive dance creates the opportunity for people to express their whole selves and teaches everyone involved how to truly listen and explore our limits together.”

Join us for our third class session in the fall! Check out dancemixability.weebly.com, e-mail dancemixabilityinfo@gmail.com, and/or Facebook for details!

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