What is a dance for people with disabilities, and what are its benefits?
Step Dance Change is a dance initiative that bridges the gap between the mainstream dance industry and the community of people with disabilities. Step Change Studios invited Salsatropical® to partner up for the Westminster Dance initiative 2022. In short, Step Dance Change provide free dance workshops to over 100 disabled people in the community. We chose 10 ‘finalists’ with a wide range of disabilities to participate in a competition. Each finalist is paired with a professional dancer to learn a 2-minute dance routine which they perform at a grand finals event. The spirit of the competition is about celebrating diversity and creating a fun experience for everyone.
One of the finalists, Michele, with sight loss, partnered up with a Salsatropical instructor to perform a salsa show.
Salsatropical participated in a competition to encourage salsa dancers from across Westminster to showcase their moves. Among the finalists was Michele, a brave salsa enthusiast who is also visually impaired. Despite her sight loss, Michele immersed herself in Salsa’s dynamic rhythms, captivating audiences with her passionate performance. To truly wow spectators, she partnered up with Salsatropical’s instructor to choreograph and perform a fantastic salsa show. Together they created the perfect spectacle — an emblem of SalsaTropical’s mission and Michelle’s determination. Their chemistry on stage was remarkable, illustrating that physical disabilities should never impede anyone from revealing their talent in salsa dance. Salsa dancing is for everyone, and if enough Salsarisos—Salsa Lovers—keep making waves like Michelle, then the music will continue spreading Latin vibes all around the globe!
What are some common misconceptions about people with disabilities and dancing that should be debunked?
Dance is a universal language accessible to everyone – even those with disabilities. Despite this, there are still many common misconceptions about people with disabilities and dancing. One false notion is that those with mobility issues or impaired vision cannot participate in certain dance styles; in reality, even Salsa can be adapted for impaired vision and includes movements such as walking side steps, hip circles and crossovers that don’t rely on visual cues. Dance can also benefit those on the autistic spectrum by teaching them body awareness, building self-confidence and providing an opportunity to socialise. Dance classes explicitly designed for the disabled are becoming increasingly popular and provide an activity where individuals can express themselves through movement while having fun. These classes prove that anyone can join in the joy of dance, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Therefore, all misconceptions surrounding people with disabilities and dancing should be debunked to promote inclusion and accessibility in the art form.
Who can benefit from participating in a dance class specifically designed for those living with disabilities?”
Participants in a dance class specifically designed for those living with disabilities can benefit from the opportunity to learn a new style of movement. Salsa, bachata, and other Salsatropical dances engage the mind and body, providing a unique physical activity that participants do not typically experience. Moreover, a dedicated dance class gives people with disabilities a chance to hone their coordination, exercising physically and mentally in a customised setting. Additionally, such specialised training can help strengthen participants’ confidence by showing them what they can do when working with their particular disability limitation.
How has your own experience dancing with those who live with disabilities changed your perception of them and their abilities?”
My experience teaching Salsa to those with disabilities has been a humbling and eye-opening one. Such a venture does not just encompass teaching dance techniques but also a broader understanding of how individuals interact with each other to accommodate the dancing couple best. Specifically, in Salsa couples dancing, it is essential to have proper posture and body lead direction during pirouettes and cross-body leads – aspects that present unique challenges when working with those living with disabilities. Through patience and creativity, however, I was able to discover ways to assist in overcoming their obstacles while remaining true to the Salsa style. My perception of those living with disabilities changed drastically as I experienced first-hand their commitment and enthusiasm – watching them rise to each challenge with joy helped me foster an appreciation for what can be accomplished when people stand together in support of one another. In this way, my own experience dancing with those who live with disabilities has helped me better understand the true depths gathered ability of such individuals. As a result, I now view these inspiring people as capable contributors to our culture’s vibrant dancing scene. It has been an honour to witness her growth as a dancer.
Conclusion paragraph: Dance can transcend barriers and connect people in a way that nothing else can. When we dance, we open our hearts and let go of any judgments or preconceived notions we may have. This is why it is so important to have accessible dance classes available for everyone, regardless of ability or disability. Inclusivity is vital in dance – there are no wrong steps, just movements that come from the heart. I’ve had the privilege of dancing with those with disabilities, and my perception of them and their abilities has changed dramatically. I now see them as dancers first and foremost, individuals who happen to have a disability second. We all have something unique to offer, and we can celebrate these differences while coming together as one community through dance. What a fantastic thing that is! If you would like to experience this magic for yourself, contact us so that we can provide an excluded session for you and your community!