Two weeks ago Olivia and I flew to NYC for the 2016 convening on the future of integrated dance in the US organized by AXIS Dance Company (axisdance.org). We were excited to meet many people that we had read about, seen their work and listened to their talks about mixed-ability dance. There were 46 people in attendance including integrated dance company founders like Mary Verdi-Fletcher from Dancing Wheels, Judy Smith from AXIS, Alito Alessi of Joint Forces and DanceAbility International; there were also funders, administrators and teachers as well as disability scholars Carrie Sandahl and Simi Linton; alongside second and third generation dancers from Heidi Latsky Dance and Marked Dance Company.
During our three days at the Gibney Dance Center in Manhattan we also learned about the international model of integrated dance. The keynote speaker, Jo Verrent, from Unlimited shared the story of the extremely inspiring and inclusive work being done to fund and support individual artists with disabilities in the UK. Check them out at: http://weareunlimited.org.uk/ and you will be wanting to move to the UK. 🙂
They had a video booth set up for participants to go and share their thoughts about the convening. One of the questions they asked was: “What makes this gathering unique?” For me it was that we were in the same room with doers, thinkers, writers and funders. It was also unique in that first, second and third generation dancers and dance makers were in conversation with each other in open discussion. It was a great mix of people who all have similar goals as creators and supporters of integrated dance. The consensus was that we must work together to continue to secure the same opportunities for people with and without disabilities.
Talk about an inspiring and thought provoking time!