Workshop with All Bodies Dance Project

Introduction to Inclusive Choreography – February 14, 2020

On this page:
Invitation (who, what, when, where, cost)
Workshop details
To register
Buddy system
Access info
Contact
Thank-you to supporters and partners
Link to Poster (PDF document)
Link to Facebook event page


Invitation

The InterdepenDance Collective invites you to spend Valentine’s Day with us!

Two facilitators from All Bodies Dance Project, Harmanie Taylor and Naomi Brand, will be coming to the island to teach a workshop on inclusive choreography.

Who: The workshop is open to people of all abilities and all levels of experience with dance.

What: A full-day workshop with tools and ideas for creating mixed ability dances.

When: Friday February 14th, 2020, 10:30am-4:30pm. (A few participants will be leaving before the end.)

Where: Garth Homer Auditorium, 813 Darwin Avenue, in the homelands of the Xwsepsum and Lekwungen Peoples and Esquimalt and Songhees Nations.

Cost: Sliding scale from $0-$100 (pay what you can afford).

Photo of 9 dancers connecting different ways on stage, some are seated and some are kneeling
Photo of All Bodies Dance Project. Photo credit: Chris Randle.

Workshop details:

About All Bodies Dance Project: “Our work brings together artists with and without disabilities to explore the endless creative possibilities in difference. We seek to make opportunities for every body to discover dance and for artists with disabilities (and without) to access dance training. We want to widen the spectrum of who dances and what dance can be.”

Workshop topics include: ideas for choreographing difference and relationship, tools for collaborative composition, and tips on how to direct in integrated dance (even if you are rotating the role in a collective).

Optional performance: Workshop participants are invited to be part of a group sharing (informal performance) during the Integrated Dance Forum on Sunday February 16th at Gordon Head Recreation Centre at 11:30am.

Please note there will be photo and video documentation of the workshop. Video documentation will allow artists to build on ideas that emerge during the workshop, as well as use short excerpts when applying for grants, promoting dance, and fundraising online. Group photos will be used online and in print when inviting people to future dance opportunities.

Scent-reduced space: Please do not use any scented products on the day of the workshop. This request is for the safety and well-being of dancers who are harmed by chemicals and fragranced products.

Other upcoming events: Integrated Dance Films, and Integrated Dance Forum.


To register:

The workshop is almost full. The remaining spots prioritize equity-seeking groups: people who self-identify as experiencing barriers in dance, are invited to register. (For example, Indigenous peoples, people of colour, Deaf and hard of hearing people, people who are Blind or partially sighted, Self-Advocates, people who use mobility tools, people with lived experience of disability, chronic illness, mental health considerations and/or neurodivergence, and two spirit, non-binary and trans people).

Here is the registration form, for when you’re not in a rush.

Alternative methods to register are by email, phone or text: send a message with “Subject: Feb. 14 registration”, your name, contact info and any access requests.

Please bring the fee (sliding scale $0-$100) with you on February 14th: payment can be by cash or by cheque made out to Made in BC – Dance on Tour (Memo: Feb. 14 Victoria). If you prefer to pay online by credit card, please note this on your registration form.


Buddy system:

All participants can opt in to having a buddy for the day. The buddy system is about collective access, mutual support and shared belonging.

Being a buddy involves checking in with another dancer and doing your best to support each other’s access needs in the ways each person requests support. A few examples of buddies: a dancer who is a nonvisual learner and a dancer who is a sighted learner might decide to stay near each other; a sitting dancer and a standing dancer might collaborate; and two dancers with chronic health conditions who know the same language might check in with each other during breaks about how they’re doing.

Please sign up to be a buddy on the registration form and feel free to note your communication and learning styles. Buddies will be matched based on compatible ways of learning and interacting; local dancers have numerous ways of communicating. Buddies will have the option of joining an accessibility orientation session Sunday February 9th (3:00pm-4:30pm at Gordon Head Recreation Centre’s Feltham Room).

The idea for a buddy system of interdependent dancers is inspired by: local dance groups, Sins Invalid’s Disability Justice principles, Carmen Papalia’s work on Open Access, the L’Arche Spirit Movers’ pairing of dancers, and Mia Mingus’ writing on Access Intimacy. This is the first time the InterdepenDance Collective is organizing a buddy system. We invite feedback on it before, during and after the workshop – feel free to be in touch.


Access info:

Access requests: On the registration form there is space to note access needs. If you have questions, feedback or suggestions, feel free to contact Joanne.

Relaxed environment: The workshop is a relaxed, “chill” environment, where everyone can choose how to engage. Feel free to attend to your needs as they come up. If requested in advance, an introvert area and a multi-sensory area can be set up, as curtained off areas to a side of the room. If you will have an attendant or support person with you, they are encouraged to participate in the workshop.

Describing: Describing is available if requested by February 9th. The describing team invites input on what styles of describing are preferred (such as spoken narration of physical movements, option of tactile describing, metaphor). Describing will be by dancers who are learning to describe.

Interpreting: Sign Language Interpreters are available (Katt and Emily) if requested by February 9th.

Captioning/ transcribing: Captioning is available if requested by February 9th. It will be remote transcribing because local transcribers are not available. There will be a few phone-arm-bands available and WIFI, allowing for mobile captioning as you move if you bring a smartphone.

Entrance: The venue is wheelchair accessible. The auditorium can be accessed through the main entrance off of Darwin Avenue (which has automatic doors), or by elevator from the lower level entrance (door has a push button) off Nigel Avenue. There are handydart drop-off areas off Darwin Avenue and on Nigel Avenue.

Parking: The larger parking area is off of Nigel Avenue. If you require a parking spot very close to the entrance, please note this on the registration form and we will ask the facility to reserve a spot for you in the upper parking lot off Darwin Avenue.

Washrooms: There are accessible washrooms for all genders. On the same level as the auditorium, there are accessible stalls in gendered (women’s and men’s) washrooms. On the lower level, near the elevator, there is a gender-neutral accessible washroom equipped with a lift.

Pronouns: There is an option to mention what gender pronouns you use (if any) on the registration form, on your name-tag at the workshop, and in introductions at the start of the day. People have diverse gender identities. Participants are asked not to assume which pronouns anyone goes by.

Chairs: There are chairs available. If you require a chair with arm-rests or another type of seating, please note this on the registration form and we will do our best to have it available.

Lighting: The auditorium has a very high ceiling with fluorescent lighting, and natural light from the side. If brighter lighting is not needed for people who speech-read, then some of the fluorescent lighting can be turned off if this would increase access.

Service animal relief area: Outside the main entrance, there is a grass area beside the parking lot.

Scent-reduced space: The registration form asks participants to commit to avoid using scented products February 14th before and during the event. Please be in touch to request a process for problem-solving if an issue with fragrances comes up at the workshop. The venue has a “go scent free” sticker on the main entrance. Sometimes there are baking or cooking smells from the kitchen.

Childcare/ familycare: Childcare and familycare is available if there is a need (February 14th is a Pro-D day).  Please request childcare/ familycare by February 9th. As well, your children and family members are welcome to join you at the workshop or hang out at the side of the dance space.

Bus routes:
-The bus routes that go nearest are the #26 (Saanich at Darwin bus stop is 0.5km away), and the northbound #16, 70, 72, 75 (Vernon at Ravine – Saanich Municipal Hall bus stop is 0.3km away).
-Feel free to be in touch if you would like an access buddy to meet you at the bus stop.
-The driveway from the Darwin Avenue sidewalk slopes down.
-If you are coming from Vernon Avenue, please note there is a steep driveway down from Vernon Avenue onto Nigel Avenue with no sidewalk. An option for avoiding steeper driveways: Around 700 Vernon Avenue, there is a parking lot driveway next to Saanich Community Recreation Services, which connects to the right with the Lochside Trail: turn right on the Lochside Trail and then left on a path that goes to Nigel Avenue, stay left, go past an apartment building and then the Garth Homer building’s lower entrance is on your left.
-Further away over on the far side of Uptown are buses #30, 31 and 50 (Carey at Ravine – Uptown bus stop is 0.6km away). From Carey there is a ramp down to the Galloping Goose Trail, which curves right underneath Carey Road and becomes the Lochside Trail; after going through a big tunnel and under another overpass there is a path to the right to Nigel Avenue.

Bicycle routes: The venue is very close to the Lochside Trail, and a little ways from the Galloping Goose Trail Switch Bridge. There are covered bike racks: off Nigel Avenue next to the driveway, and to the right of the main entrance off Darwin Avenue.

Options for the lunch break: There are tables and chairs in the auditorium if you bring your own lunch. There is a grocery store a few blocks away, and Uptown Mall is about five long blocks away. If you would like fresh air, the paved Lochside Trail, a couple of benches and Swan Lake are nearby.


Contact:

For more information about the workshop, contact Joanne. The registration link is above.


Many thanks to workshop supporters and partners:

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

This workshop is supported by Made in BC-Dance on Tour’s Community Engagement program, Garth Homer Society, MediaNet, Victoria Disability Resource Centre, and the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists/West Chapter.

Flux Media Gallery logo

Logo for CADA West

The event is organized by the InterdepenDance Collective in collaboration with All Bodies Dance Project, Creative Momentum, and Embrace Arts.


Back to top of page.

Colonial Reality Tour

Colonial Reality mini-Tour for dancers
Tuesday June 25th
7:00pm

at Esquimalt Gorge Park
on Tillicum Road just south of the Gorge Waterway.
We’ll meet at the bottom of the main parking lot (closer to the water) by the bike racks.

Event description:

The Colonial Reality Tour is guided by a Lekwungen community member to identify places of significance to local Indigenous peoples and the colonial institutions and names that mark them.

Cheryl Bryce has offered to guide a short version of the Colonial Reality Tour for dancers on June 25th by Camossung. We will stroll to a few tour stops, for about an hour.

Space is limited. Please RSVP by June 24th at this link and note any access needs. The route will be shaped by the accessibility needs of the group.

Admission is free.

This event is open to anyone involved in dance who would like to attend (such as community dancers, dance artists, dance facilitators/ teachers, and family members). It has been organized by a few members of the islands network for collaborative dance.

Thank-you to Made in BC – Dance on Tour’s community engagement program for supporting this event, which is part of a dance project that is also supported by the CRD Arts & Culture Support Service and the Victoria Disability Resource Centre.

Bringing a water bottle is encouraged.

Buses number 8, 9, 11, 14 and 26 go to the area.

We apologize that there has not been more advance notice for this event, and look forward to seeing those who can attend.

Dance Visioning June 26

You are invited to brainstorm about integrated dance! What types of all abilities dance initiatives would you like to be part of locally over the coming year/s?

Dance Visioning: Wednesday June 26th.
Two time options (choose one): 11:00am-12:30pm, or 1:30pm-2:30pm.
At the Victoria Disability Resource Centre’s boardroom, at 817A Fort Street, in the homelands of the Lekwungen peoples.
ASL Interpretation is available for the 11:00am-12:30pm session.

Please register by June 24th at this link: https://forms.gle/dTAfjeHyeugkZ43j7 .

The morning session will be co-hosted by Amber (Dancer & Artist) and Joanne (Creative Momentum), and the afternoon session will be co-hosted by Tiffany (Embrace Arts) and Joanne.

The visioning will help shape local dance opportunities for this Fall and over the coming years.

This gathering is a follow-up to last year’s Mixed-Abilities Dance Group, in collaboration with the Victoria Disability Resource Centre. This event is made possible with support from CRD Arts & Culture Support Service and Made in BC – Dance on Tour’s community engagement program.


A head’s up about an opportunity to dance this Fall: There will be integrated dance collaborative sessions on one Wednesday per month. For more information see the Integrated Dance Collective page.

Winter 2019

You are warmly invited to join these dance groups in the New Year:

All Abilities Dance Group: A Monday morning all abilities dance group starts January 21.

55+ Dance Group: An inclusive, collaborative dance group, mostly 55years+ (but younger folks welcome), starts with a free introductory session January 18. 55+ Dance Group sessions are Fridays 10:30am-11:30am at Cedar Hill Rec Dance Studio.

Autumn 2018

Here are dance groups inviting new participants this month:

Fifteen dancers are improvising, with three duets smiling in the foreground

Mixed-Abilities Dance Group: A new inclusive dance group is starting on September 20th. Mixed-abilities dance group sessions are free and are on Thursdays 1:00pm-2:00pm. The group includes people who experience disability as well as people who don’t experience disability.

Photo: two adults dancing facing each other looking down

55+ Dance Group: An inclusive, collaborative dance group, mostly 55years+ (but younger folks welcome), starts with a free introductory session September 21st. 55+ Dance Group sessions are Fridays 10:30am-11:30am at Cedar Hill Rec Dance Studio.

Photo of ten people dancing, some holding hands, some on their own, five people seated and five people standing.All Abilities Dance Group: A Monday morning all abilities dance group in collaboration with a local non-profit organization.

Invitation for ideas and suggestions: This season we will be checking in with folks through a survey about what types of sessions or groups people would like to be part of in 2019. The survey will be sent through the Dancing for Wellbeing newsletter; if you would like to sign up your email please use the contact page.

Dancing Together March 18 at 7pm

The first Dancing Together session, which is all genders, all mobilities, all ages, queer, community social dance, will be:

Saturday March 18
7:00pm-9:00pm
at Dance Victoria (2750 Quadra Street) at the back door (use the rear parking entrance on Market Street), in Lkwungen Territory.
Sliding scale $0-20.
Note: Please do not use scented products on the day of the event.
The Facebook event page is at [link: March 18 Facebook event page].

For details about accessibility and directions

Please click [link: Dancing Together page] for details about event accessibility and location.

March 18 event description:

Dancing Together brings together people with diverse genders and sexualities, people of diverse backgrounds, and people with diverse ways of moving, as well as friends, family and supportive people. Sessions are open to anyone who can 1) communicate consent (non-verbally or verbally) and 2) respect other people’s boundaries and gender identities. No previous dance experience is required.

On March 18th we will start with talking about how to respect other people’s boundaries and gender identities, such as asking for and receiving consent before engaging in contact such as holding hands, and not assuming what gender pronouns (if any) someone might use. We recognize this is a learning process and we can learn from our mistakes.

There will then be a 30 or 40-minute introductory lesson in gender-inclusive & mixed-abilities partner dance. This will include a chance to try the dance roles of inviting and responding (“leading” and “following”), ways of moving through space together (with options of moving with space between us or with contact such as holding hands), and options for spins / turns / going around each other. There is no need to come with a dance partner. After the learning time there will be a venue washroom discussion, followed by some freestyle social dance time, for practicing what we learned or free-form dancing. After dancing we will brainstorm about what types of dance we would like to try in future sessions.

Want to receive updates about sessions?

To be added to the group’s email listserv, please [link: contact us].

To join the group’s page on Facebook, please go to [link: group on Facebook].

Want to help sessions happen?

The group is looking for people to help with a variety of shared roles, which are described in this [link: invite to get involved on Saturdays]. There will be a Dancing and Planning session on March 11 from 3:30pm-5:30pm for people helping out.

Want more info about the group and other upcoming dates?

For more info, please click [link: Dancing Together page].

Dancing with Art: March 27-31

Am delighted to be facilitating a week-long intergenerational workshop at the end of March on five afternoons. Ages 9 to 70+ are welcome! Below is the description from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria website:

Spring Camp 2017: Dancing with Art (ages 9+)

Monday, March 27 – Friday, March 31 | 1:00pm – 4:00pm

At the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Photo of a marionette-type of figurine with an arm raised and arm out, in front of a mixed media painting with varied colours and textures.
Photo Credit: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

“Move in new ways! Join Joanne for a week of expressing yourself through playful dance activities and creative arts. Improv movement sessions will be held in various locations around the Gallery where inspiration will be sought from paintings, sculpture, sound, poetry, buildings and the land. Over the five days the group will also collaborate on creating a site-specific dance piece.

“All abilities are welcome and activities will be adapted to accommodate each participant. There is no wrong move, and no prior dance experience is needed!”

For the cost and registration please see the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria website.

Accessibility notes: The Dancing with Art venue is an older building, and although it has washrooms that are designated as mobility accessible, the width of the restroom doorways and turn-around space may be too narrow for some participants who use wheelchairs. There are ramps to the restrooms and to the gallery rooms. The gallery is lit by bright lighting (including fluorescent lights); it may be useful to bring a hat with a visor and/or sunglasses if you are sensitive to lighting. We will spend time in two studios that have windows , natural lighting and access to fresh air; as well as movement sessions in some gallery rooms that have no windows; and we can do some activities outdoors if it is not raining (please bring weather-appropriate clothing).
Please be in touch with Joanne if you would like any accessibility details, such as the dimensions of doorways and layout of the restrooms.

Invite to help out (and dance!) Saturdays

Dancing Together, inclusive social dance lessons for people with diverse genders, sexualities, backgrounds and ways of moving; will start this Spring! It will be on one or two Saturdays per month, with alternating start times of 3:30pm and 7:00pm, in Quadra Village in Lekwungen Homelands. For a detailed description of the sessions, please click [link: Dancing Together group overview].

Would you like to help Dancing Together sessions happen in a good way?

The group is looking for volunteers for a variety of shared roles: music, sound, “on call” team (access support/ safer spaces), movement translators, sign language teachers, co-facilitators, fundraising, social media, postering, first aid, set-up/clean-up, and zine-making.

There are options both for volunteers who want to dance and those who don’t want to dance. There may also be opportunities for people who like drawing, sewing hems, translating languages, providing informal audio description, assisting with ASL interpretation, Braille embossing, website updating and graphic design.

If you’d like to be involved, please RSVP to dancingtog@gmail.com and include the following:

1) Which is the first session date you will be attending? (Session dates are March 18 from 7:00pm-9:00pm, likely April 22 from 7:00pm-9:00pm, and more dates will be confirmed in April on [link: group page]; volunteers are asked to arrive 15 minutes before the session start time)

2) Is there a group role/s that you are interested in, or do you have experience or skills in a certain aspect that you would like to share?

Want your email added to the group’s listserv, or interested in donating to the sessions?

Please [link: contact us].

The group has started a collaborative google-document to compile favourite anti-oppressive songs for dancing, including suggesting songs of musicians with dancey music who are trans, gender variant, queer, Indigenous, people of colour, and/or living with disabilities; and discussing and/or flagging songs with lyrics that might be problematic, oppressive, and/or not trauma-informed. If you would like to contribute to the music ideas document, please be in touch.


Here is a draft description of the various roles:

*If you would like to try something you’ve never done before and would like support learning what’s involved, let a co-facilitator know at a session or by email, as we could organize skills-shares or mentoring this Spring. (:
*If you have experience in a role and would like to share what you have learned or co-mentor, let a co-facilitator know at a session or by email. (:

  • Co-facilitators: people who love dancing, have a strong understanding of consent, and are committed to learning inclusive language and practices. We’re gathering together a collective of co-facilitators that includes Indigenous people, people of colour, people living with disabilities, intersex people, and two-spirit, trans, nonbinary and/or gender-variant people. Co-facilitators might take turns, with 2-3 people co-facilitating each session. It will be a paid position, although the honourarium amount will be dependent on how many donations come in at each session.
  • Sound: people who take turns hanging out near the stereo to press play, pause, and adjust volume.
  • Music: people who collaborate or take turns creating a playlist either just for the freestyle part of sessions (30-45 minutes), or for the whole session (90 minutes), in consultation with that week’s co-facilitators. Guidelines for songs: aiming for lyrics that are consensual, anti-oppressive and friendly for all ages.
  • Fundraising team: people who help the group seek donations and write grant applications. Costs include accessibility needs (such as having bus tickets available, hiring a translator or sign language interpreter when needed, etc.), space rental, honourariums for co-facilitators and guest instructors, buying rad music that people request, printing the zine (find an organization to sponsor photocopying?), etc.
  • “On call” team (access support/ safer spaces): people who participate in sessions but are available for people to connect with if an issue comes up during a session, and who take turns being by the door.
    • The group is currently drafting safer spaces guidelines (e.g. adapting from the guidelines for Alt Pride’s All Bodies Swim and Homospun dances), and will be brainstorming protocols for situations that may arise. The “on call” team will need to decide on how to note who is “on call” (e.g. with a green heart safety pinned to the back of the “on call” people’s shirts/tops like Homospun, with green fabric tied around an arm like the Stolen Sisters Memorial March organizers, or with hankies/ fabric if we can figure out a pattern that doesn’t already have connotations?)
  • Movement translators: people who help translate dance instructions into a variety of options based on needs and abilities. During lessons a small group could hang out beside the instructors and offer examples of ways of interpreting dance steps (e.g. seated, moving an arm instead of feet, partner dancing without holding hands, etc.).
  • Sign language teachers: people who teach the group a few new signs at the beginning of each session to do with consent (“yes”, “no”, “stop”, “I’m sorry”, “is this okay?”, “do you want to hold hands?”, “awesome, thank-you”, “you’re welcome”, etc.), dancing (“fast”, “slow”, “which role?”, “you choose”, “freestyle”, etc.) and accessibility (“options”, “if sitting”, “if standing”, etc.); and who are available to support/teach co-facilitators and “on call” people signs related to their roles (“are you okay?”, “do you want support?”, etc.).
  • Social media and posters: people who, in collaboration with the group, create facebook event pages and posters, poster, handle social media, compile a list of relevant groups and calendars for sending updates to, etc.
  • First aid: people with current certification in first aid and CPR, who are available to assist if a participant has a sudden illness or injury.
  • Set-up/ clean-up: people who can arrive 20 minutes early and/or stay 15 minutes after to help move chairs and tables to/from the studio, sweeping the floor if needed, etc.
  • Zine-making team: people who like to draw, create art, compile resources, edit, summarize or do layout to create a Dancing Together zine in collaboration with co-facilitators and “on call” team, from around April – October 2017. The resource zine could include summaries about consent in dance, acknowledging the peoples of the land, pronouns, confidentiality, safer spaces, conversation starter ideas, inappropriate questions, anti-colonial gender-inclusive all-abilities dance, cultural appropriation vs. cultural exchange, and local resources for emotional support. Once it’s ready, copies of the zine will be available at sessions and can be referred to as things come up. Once the group creates a website, the resource info could go online as well.

For any questions, or to get involved, please [link: contact us].

An Invitation to Dance

There is a new article about local adaptive dance opportunities that I (Joanne Cuffe) wrote in collaboration with the Victoria Disability Resource Centre for their blog: An Invitation to Dance. (Update: I am including the article below along with all of the photos with alt text descriptions, as most of the photos did not get transferred when the VDRC switched to a new website.)


An Invitation to Dance
Kristian is turning his head and looking up to the top left corner of the photo, with a smile. He has one arm diagonally up to the left and his other elbow is out to the right with his hand by his ear. He is wearing a black t-shirt and dark pants and is seated in his manual wheelchair. There is some gym equipment in the background.
Kristian OakenShield dancing at MOVE gym.

Four months ago dance was not at all on Kristian OakenShield’s radar screen. But that definitely changed one day in September at MOVE gym, when, by chance, he encountered a Dance Without Limits session. It looked like great fun and he joined in.

Now the program, which is run by the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC, is part of his life, and he works as a volunteer at their dance sessions.

Kristian says he likes “moving the body in ways I would not normally, being creative with my imagination, and being more in tuned and aware with my body.” After dancing he feels “inner excitement and inner happiness–I know I am getting out of my comfort zone.”

Dancing has an extensive array of health benefits and it is fantastic for physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and social well-being. Studies have found that dancing can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, lessen pain, minimize isolation, help heal trauma, promote healthy aging, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Dancing can also improve range of motion, balance, coordination and agility; increase muscular strength and endurance; and benefit the heart and lungs.

Five adults are dancing, facing in different directions, with a few more people in the background. Two people are sitting next to each other facing the left. The closest person has his hand on the push ring of his manual wheelchair and the other dancer is clapping to the music. Behind them are two people facing each other, holding hands and dancing while standing. To the left there is a dancer who is turning her head to face the camera; she is stretching one arm in front of her, holding hands with someone not seen in the photo, and she is dancing while sitting in her manual wheelchair.
Dancers at a Celebration bringing together participants from five dance groups. Photo credit: Kirk Schwartz.

Kristian is an active member of MOVE gym and has been attending other dance workshops there too. He says his own specific goal is “to use dance to help me progress further in my quest to regain full function of my physical body.” He says he also gets real satisfaction from volunteering in dancing “to help enrich other people’s lives.”

Kristian’s advice to a peer, who wants to try an inclusive dance class but feels hesitant, is: “Just make a decision to take action and try it out and watch what happens.”

Dancing can be an amazing way of bringing people together, as communities have done around the world for a very long time. Dancing in a supportive setting can help meet a variety of basic human needs: for connection, acceptance, belonging, closeness, mutuality and respect; for autonomy, choice, freedom and spontaneity; for joy, humour, movement and safe physical contact; and for celebration, contribution, creativity, harmony, inspiration, meaning and self-expression. (This list draws from the Needs Inventory by the Center for Nonviolent Communication.)


The adaptive dance scene is varied and growing in Victoria in Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ Territories.

In June 2016 five community dance groups came together for a Celebration. Each group shared the dance they had created in collaboration with artist facilitators, and everyone mingled during a dance party. Participants included dancers with diversabilities, dancers who are older adults, and dancers who are refugees and newcomers. The event was hosted by the Dance Alchemy project and the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria, with funding from the BC Arts Council.

The feet of nine adult dancers are in a circle. They are wearing a variety of sizes and types of casual shoes, boots, socks with a cloud pattern, and running shoes. 5 people have just one shoe visible pointing to the middle, and 3 people have both their feet resting on the foot rests of their wheelchairs.
Circle of feet with the Wellspring Dancers.

On January 4th there was a follow-up event called Dancing in the Morning that welcomed all abilities; 45 people gathered to dance at 10:30am at Cedar Hill Recreation. Participants were enthusiastic and are interested in the inclusive event happening once a month, if we can find a large accessible space that is available on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday from 10:30-11:30am.

Locally there is a group focused on creating opportunities for inclusive social dance, with sessions starting in March. Dancing Together brings together people with diverse ways of moving, as well as queer, trans and gender-variant communities, to try different types of social dance (such as tango) and learn to improvise together respectfully. This is a welcome development, as many dance classes and clubs around town are inaccessible to many community members, whether it is due to the venue not being physically accessible, the cost being a barrier, or the teaching style of the instructors not being inclusive or welcoming.


As well as public classes, there are also a variety of ongoing dance groups that happen through organizations around Victoria in Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ Homelands. I am honoured to facilitate dance groups with people with diverse ways of moving, perceiving and interacting, with six disability-focused organizations and nine organizations focused on Elders and older adults.

Six adults, ages 30s-90s and of different genders, are dancing in a semi-circle, while sitting on dining room chairs. They are leaning forwards a bit, and smiling to the camera. Most of them have their right hands stretched out towards their right feet; their right heels are out forwards on the carpet. Each dancer is wearing a different colour of shirt: teal, white, navy, red, cream, light green.
Joanne (left), with the Glenshiel Dancers and Lori Hamar (right). Photo credit: Kirk Schwartz.

In recent years I have led dance sessions with around 1900 unique participants, aged 4 years old to 103 years young. I live with invisible disabilities, and I notice that my sense of joy and well-being is drastically increased when I dance during the day in a community setting, compared to days when I do not dance.

I asked a few participants with one of the dance groups for their reflections on the sessions. Linda, Renee, Johnny and Lawrence all said that they had not taken a dance class before attending sessions at Kardel’s Futures program. Renee said she likes that she gets to help pick the music and that there are “no bad moves.” Linda likes “everything,” and Lawrence noted that “it’s fun AND Joanne plays Cantonese songs.” Johnny said, “I feel great after dance,” and Renee and Linda said they feel energized.

There have been integrated dance initiatives locally in the past, including by Geoff McMurchy, Dance Victoria, Lori Hamar, Brad Magnus and Dance Encounters. There are also examples from around the world of inclusive dance initiatives that believe that ‘if you can breathe you can dance,’ including Sins Invalid, which focuses on disability, sexuality and social justice, and DanceAbility International, which offers teacher trainings.

18 adults are in a big circle in a dance studio. Some dancers have their arms stretched wide open to their sides and some dancers have their arms raised to the front with elbows bent. 8 people are seated, using a variety of styles of wheelchairs, and 10 people are standing.
All Bodies Dance Project. Photo credit: Chris Randle.

There are many professional dance companies elsewhere that are physically integrated, where artists with and without disabilities collaborate, such as Candoco DanceAXIS Dance, and ILL-Abilities International Breakdance Crew. “Mixed ability dance is an approach that is accessible to all bodies and all abilities, including people with physical, developmental, sensory and neurological disabilities,” wrote the All Bodies Dance Project in an article about attending the first Canadian Inclusive Dance Teacher Intensive in February 2016. The people involved in dance companies in other cities are in dialogue, including All Bodies Dance Project in Vancouver, Propeller Dance in Ottawa, MoMo Mixed Ability Dance Theatre in Calgary, CRIPSiE in Edmonton, and Corpuscule Danse in Montréal.

Six adults are in a row on a stage, each doing a different move. Two dancers are looking to the right (one dancer is in the background behind a dancer who is using a scooter and has an arm lifted to the right). Two dancers are leaning forwards looking down (one dancer has her arm stretched down to the left with her other hand on the push rim of her manual chair, she is next to a dancer who is standing with arms straight down). And two dancers are looking to the left (a dancer, with an elbow to the side and hand behind ear and legs crossed, is seated in a power chair, next to a dancer balanced on one foot with the other leg lifted and arms out to the sides). They are all wearing a mix of black and red clothing.
All Bodies Dance Project dancers in See & Be Seen. Photo credit: Chris Randle.

Although the dance sessions mentioned earlier in this article are focused on being beginner-friendly, if there is interest, we could train together in the coming years and create an inclusive dance company here, too.

Emily J. danced with MoMo Dance in Calgary for three years and now lives on the island. “I’ve met some of my favourite people through dance – people who show me exceptional ways of being in the world. Dancing has generated new possibilities for intimate love and care, and moments of change and joy that I might not have had otherwise.”


Its Happening in Victoria

Lots of opportunities to participate in adaptive dance in the Victoria area:

Inclusive dance for adults: 
  • Adaptive Dance, Mondays 1:00-1:45pm at Cedar Hill Recreation; although the January class is full, if the waitlist fills up we will schedule another class. We are fundraising to have an All Abilities Dance Group there this April in collaboration with MOVE Adapted Fitness, facilitated by Joanne Cuffe. Learn more about the Adaptive Dance class.
  • 50+ dance troupe, Mondays 2:00-3:30pm at Cedar Hill Recreation, all abilities welcome. The group is also open to adults younger than 50, and is free thanks to support from Saanich Parks & Recreation and Made in BC. Learn more about the 50+ dance troupe.  
  • Dancing Together, inclusive social dance lessons that bring together people with diverse ways of moving as well as queer, trans and gender-variant communities, beginning in March. Learn more about the “Dancing Together” dance lessons.
  • Dancing in the Morning, inclusive dancing events that bring together participants from day programs and interested community members, on a Mon., Tues. or Wed. at 10:30am, happening a few times per year (or more often if a venue/ sponsors are found). Learn more about the “Dancing in the Morning” events.
  • To be in touch about the Dance Alchemy project, or community dance programs (sessions can happen on-site at local organizations, residences and community centres), contact Joanne Cuffe.
Opportunities to dance with other instructors:
  • Motion Ways, a custom dance/ exercise program tailored for individuals with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy, peripheral neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, and acquired brain injury, Mondays 11:15am-12:15pm until April 10, at Gordon Head Rec Centre, a program of HeadWay, instructed by Lindsay Beal. Learn more about the motion ways program.
  • Juan de Fuca Social Club, weekly dances that are geared towards people with disabilities, Wednesdays 7:00-8:30pm at Juan de Fuca Seniors Centre: Learn more about the programs at Juan de Fuca (description for dance and drama programs is on page 42 in the January guide).
  • Dance Without Limits, free classes for children and youth with various disabilities, on Tuesdays 5:15-6:00pm until March 28, drop-ins welcome, at MOVE Gym, a program of the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC, instructed by Jordan Dalley. Learn more about Dance Without Limits.
  • Chair Exercise, a dance class for people living with multiple sclerosis and anyone else interested in a seated dance/exercise class, Tuesdays 12:15-1:15pm until Feb. 28, at Silver Threads Victoria, a program of the MS Society of Canada, instructed by Katrina Pavlovski. Learn more about the chair exercise class. 
  • Adapted Dance classes for children, youth and young adults, taught by Tiffany Tjosvold. Learn more about Adapted Dance classes.
  • Dance and Move for PD (Parkinson’s Disease) and dance therapy sessions with Sepora Mayim Jacobson. Learn more about Dance and Move dance therapy.