Dance and Disability
Boston Dance Alliance is committed to
supporting dancers and dancemakers with disabilities
and those who want to work with them.
Boston Dance Alliance is honored to have received significant funding from The Boston Foundation to support a cohort of New England dancers with disabilities in developing the field for increased participation, professional development, and artistry. This program is engaging dancers with a range of visible and invisible disabilities in virtual, artist-led conversations and activities that are helping to build the field.
Karen Krolak , Founder/Artistic Director of Monkeyhouse, an award-winning nonprofit that connects communities with choreography and a member the Boston Dance Alliance’s Artist Advisory Board, identifies as a dancer with disabilities. She is a key partner and consultant on this important initiative.
Some of us question how valuable what we [as diverse dancers] bring to the table. I just think that maybe what we’ve given ourselves over the past year [through participating in the BDA cohort] is the confirmation that we each are extremely good resources, that our experiences — that have been worked hard for through our living and through our art — matter a whole lot, they mean a whole lot. — Melissa Sallée
Making an impact!
Improving theatres for artists and audiences
BDA’s cohort of dancers with disabilities shared their insights with the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival as it strives to increase the accessibility of its campus and plans for the rebuilding of the Doris Duke Theatre, which was destroyed by fire. The Leir outdoor stage now has an accessible entrance with handrails, paved area, and options for people who use wheelchairs to sit with the able bodied people they came with. And that information is on the Pillow’s website, so guests with disabilities can plan. The BDA cohort’s recommendations are also being folded into the architectural RFP for the new Duke venue.
Thank you to the Pillow and all organizations doing this important work.
Making affordable rehearsal space available for artists with disabilities
Three members of the BDA Dance and Disability cohort were granted rehearsal space grants through Monkeyhouse’s partnership with Somerville Arts Council’s ArtAssembled art space initiative. We congratulate Cassandre Charles, John Ying and Nicole Zizzi and look forward to seeing their next work!
Making grant applications more accessible and equitable
Inspired by the work and desires of the BDA Dance and Disability Cohort, our partners at Inclusive Arts Vermont are piloting a special program to work with artists with disabilities to articulate their needs, describe their work, and apply for support from the Vermont Arts Council, a program IAV hopes ultimately to share with state arts councils across the country.
We Congratulate these New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) Grantees
Lida Winfield, a member of BDA’s Dance and Disability cohort, who has been named to the RDDI: New England Now artist cohort and Toby MacNutt , awarded a 2021 NEFA New Work New England grant, and the disabled dance artists of AXIS Dance Company in Oakland California and Dancing Wheels in Cleveland Ohio, recipients of 2021 support from the National Dance Project.
Meet Cassandre Charles, BDA’s May 2021 Member of the Month!
Cassandre Charles is an interdisciplinary artist and storyteller who delights in many genres of movement, from the curtseys of classical ballet to the grounded, rhythmic work of African diasporic movement to strutting her stuff for the house she founded, United Colors of Burlesque, now UNITED, as the aptly named “Jolie Lavie.”Active as a performer, dancemaker, stage manager, and fine arts model, Cassandre lives with an invisible chronic disability, and has found new opportunities to train and creative connections as a participant in Boston Dance Alliance’s regional Dance and Disability initiative.
Cassandre loves the Shel Silverstein quote behind her in this photograph: all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet.
LOOKING FOR AN ONLINE DANCE CLASS FOR FOLKS WITH DISABILITIES?
Our colleagues at Dance/NYC compiled this list, check the websites for updates. And since these classes are held all over the country, double check the time, since not all are Eastern Time!
• Axis Dance Company: Weekly Online Classes
M-F 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PT. High quality physically integrated dance classes & workshops via Zoom with CART captioning provided.
• Dance for All Bodies (DfAB): Weekly Online Classes
DfAB is a non-profit that organizes donation-based dance classes for people with disabilities in multiple styles such as Flamenco, Urban Jazz and Contemporary Ballet. Closed captioning and ASL interpretation is provided in all classes. Classes are held both during weekdays and weekends. Register for all DfAB classes.
• Dance for Parkinson’s Classes: Daily Online Classes
Launched as a collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group.
FREE dance classes for people with Parkinsons happen locally, hosted by Urbanity.
• Dances For A Variable Population: Remote Dance Programming for Seniors
• Full Radius Dance: Weekly Online Classes
Physically Integrated Class and Full Radius Dance technique. Live class is held 10:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M. on Wednesdays. Executed by different embodiments – seated on the floor, seated in a chair, or standing. Audio captioned.
• Heidi Latsky On Display Global Meditative Practice: first Tuesday at 12:00 p.m. and last Sunday at 6:00 p.m. Led by artistic director Heidi Latsky, these FREE sessions are one hour long. Register for any of the On Display sessions.
• [Virtual] Dark Room Ballet: Open Level Class with Krishna Washburn. Weekly class Mondays 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. through July 26th. FREE. Learn more about Dark Room Ballet. To register, email email@example.com.
Through their referral service for dancers with disabilities, the Boston Dance Alliance strives to break down barriers to inclusion. I was thrilled to see their action become a reality when I received an interview for and then earned the position to teach a 5-week accessible youth flamenco class at the Cotting School in Lexington. This is a chance of a lifetime, affording me the opportunity to share my love of flamenco with this inclusive community. Thank you BDA for increasing cultural equity and access to dance for diverse communities!
~Eve Costarelli, owner and founder, Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts: Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body
Whether it is finding a consultant for a teacher who wants to include a student with a disability in dance activity,
connecting with a teaching artist who has a visible or invisible disability
matching a ballroom dance teacher with a frail senior citizen
or making wheelchair-accessible rehearsal space at Lyric Stage Studio available to a mixed-abilities dance company
Boston Dance Alliance is here to help.
Let us break down barriers to inclusion together.
For referral services or to learn more, contact Debra Cash, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Support BDA’s work to encourage dancers of all abilities and our advocacy for dance across Boston by making your generous contribution now.
Boston Dance Alliance is a proud member of Dance/USA‘s Deaf and Disability Affinity Group task force and is proud to be listed as a resource for disabled dancers with INDEX at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School.