Physically integrative dance

[Image description: People in a dance studio, in pairs use each others bodies to create interesting shapes.]

Physically integrative dance is an activity in which everyone can translate movement into something their individual bodies can manage.

AXIS has been around since 1987 as a physically integrative dance company. The company tour the world but are based in Oakland, California. AXIS’ dedication to inclusion and education is awesome. Part of the company member’s job is to perform and run classes at school’s and within the community.

I recently took a class with AXIS. The class consisted of myself and about 10 other disabled and non-disabled participants. Four company members joined the class and leant a hand when needed. The class was run by the rehearsal director. There was no mucking around, after a few introductions we started on basic dance and theatre warmups.

It was my first dance class since I sustained my spinal cord injury and needless to say I was terrified. I struggled in parts but not once did I feel uncomfortable. The way the class was run was an art in itself. The company members gave dancers the time and space needed to find their way through each exercise while making sure everyone was keeping up.

Once we had worked through the exercises we were divided into groups to collaborate on a piece to present to the class. I found it frustrating at times. It is a challenge for my body to replicate and repeat movement but when our piece came together it resulted in a hugely emotive contemporary dance piece that I was proud of.

Previous experience or not, just watching a class like this will challenge everything you thought you knew about your own physical abilities and disability in general. AXIS successfully created a safe environment for people to learn and grow. You don’t need to make it all the way to California to take part in an integrative dance class. There are companies all around the world and if you can’t get to a class, try putting some music on and explore what your body can do.

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A couple of other companies I love:

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