Hello, friends! This is Olivia, project coordinator for Body Shift, VSA Texas’ acclaimed mixed-ability dance project. I can’t believe it was 12 years ago that Silva, who is originally from Finland, and I first met in the DanceAbility course in Trier, Germany. By good fortune we are now here in Austin teaching together. The DanceAbility method has been devised and reined by Alito Alessi over the past 30 years. Along with Celia Hughes, VSA Texas’ executive director, I recently organized the DanceAbility Teacher Certification Training in Austin. Many locals as well as people from across the country and Mexico came together to take part. The course was successfully completed in December and Austin now has 17 people of all abilities certified to teach DanceAbility!
So what is DanceAbility? DanceAbility is a form of movement training that uses the fundamentals of dance improvisation and choreography to make movement accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Founder of DanceAbility, Alito Alessi, explains, “DanceAbility is a dance method. It is not a form of therapy. In therapies, which happen for all people but particularly for people with disabilities, there’s always an idea about ‘How can we help you? How can we change you? How can we teach you to conform to what is the norm?’ And that process of moving in that direction is usually about teaching someone how to function better. We [DanceAbility International] value expression over function. We have been taught how to see and it’s not really seeing. It’s assumptions that organize the way that people see something. So one of the interests in our work is to show them things they’ve never seen before.”
In DanceAbility we work with four principles – sensation, relationship, time, and design – to develop increased body awareness, understanding of non-verbal communication, strategies for moving in new ways beyond habitual movement patterns, and awareness of how to present work to an audience.