Our Approach

Our Story

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique. They are great because of their passion” - Martha Graham

From hip hop to ballet, everyone has their own idea of who a dancer is. Allison Orr Artistic Director of Forklift Danceworks and Celia Hughes Executive Director of Art Spark Texas got together on a mission to expand those ideas. They imagined a place where people could explore the world of dance regardless of their physical ability or dance experience. A place where everyone felt included, comfortable, and encouraged to be themselves. A place to discover movement possibilities without expectation or judgment. Their dream was clear. Add in a few curious individuals and amazing local partners, Body Shift, now known as Art Spark Dance was born, proudly hosting its first intensive in 2009.


— Our Mission

Art Spark Dance is a program of Art Spark Texas, a Texas-based nonprofit that challenges perceptions of how people contribute to society by creating an arts-inspired, inclusive community of individuals with diverse disabilities. We aim to create safe spaces for anyone who has been affected by an inaccessible society.


— Our Vision​

Our vision is to make a positive contribution to wider social change by bringing our artistic work into public spaces, sharing our expertise of community and inclusive dance with future dance artists and educators, and presenting at national conferences at the intersection of dance, education and disability. 


— Accessibility Statement

We believe that accessibility and inclusion are human rights. We strive to make our programs and spaces as accessible as possible for people with diverse physicalities and sensory modalities. At Art Spark Texas, we understand accessibility and inclusion are a continuous process that brings new opportunities to learn and grow. We’re always looking for ways to improve and ensure everyone can have great experiences with us. For questions or accommodation requests, please send us an email at Dance@artsparktx.org.

Meet our team

Tanya Winters standing in a pile of leaves in a woodsy area looking off into the distance.

Tanya Winters

Artistic Director of Body Shift Collective

A Chicago native, Tanya fell in love with Austin after a weekend trip. She enjoys pushing the boundaries of arts and disability! Tanya's career as an artist began in theatre in 2005 and shifted to dance in 2007 thanks to a wooden chair and the desire to tell her story. As a student of Austin Community College, she gained extensive background in improvisation and choreography. She has learned from some of the dance world’s top artists like Alito Alessi Nina Martin, Heidi Latsky, Sandra Paola Lopez, and Stephan Koplowitz. Tanya started making work of her own and became a certified DanceAbility instructor in 2011.

Currently, she is a member of the Body Shift collective, where she loves dancing, teaching, creating and collaborating with other dancers with and without disabilities. Tanya is the co-choreographer of Together and Apart and Pieces of Her ongoing duets that explore the relationship between environment, the art of human interaction, female empowerment, and resiliency. She hopes that her work will motivate other dancers to think outside the box and erase the line between ability and disability.

Black and white headshot of Veronica DeWitt standing, smiling with her hands on her hips.

Veronica DeWitt

Master Teacher and Choreographer

Veronica DeWitt was raised in two places: Sixes, OR with her mom and various cities in TX with her dad (mostly around Webberville, TX outside of Austin). V, as her friends call her, recently moved to San Marcos, TX.  She holds a BA in Dance from the University of Oregon in 2003.  Since graduating college she has become a professional dancer, choreographer, aerialist, and Master Teacher of DanceAbility.

She has had the privilege to work in the companies of Robin Stiehm (OR) , Alito Alessi (OR).  Kathy Dunn Hamrick (TX), and Art Spark Texas (TX), and also has been a  presenter at national conferences and festivals such as SXSW EDU, NDEO, Austin Dance Festival, and Texas Dance Improvisation Festival.

Currently, she teaches inclusive movement classes at Rosedale School in Austin, TX and is also teaching DanceAbility classes at Austin Community College in the Somatic Movement Education Department.

Headshot of Silva Laukkanen smiling standing in front of large glass windows.

Silva Laukkanen

Director of Integrated Dance

Silva Laukkanen loves dance. She loves movement. She loves diversity. She loves the beautiful moments that are created in space by bodies telling stories. During a chance opportunity to teach at a rehabilitation center in her native Finland, she was reminded of the transformative power of movement in the lives of everyday people. Because of this experience, she decided to re-focus her career on community and mixed-ability dance. Using her passion for both choreography and performance, she has worked with Remix Dance Company and SCORE in Cape Town teaching children and adults in local communities. A Certified DanceAbility Instructor since 2003, she has given workshops in Finland and England for mixed-aged and ability groups, including a two-year stint teaching a weekly class for the Finnish mixed-ability company Magic Dance. She was introduced to Forklift and Body Shift in 2010 as a participant in its inaugural event. Silva holds a BFA in Dance from The North Karelia College of Outokumpu and a postgraduate degree in Community Dance from The Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, UK.


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Tremendous thanks go to the talented photographers behind the incredible photos on our website: Camille Wheeler, Pat Berrett, Boye Nagle, Silva Laukkanen, and James Wilkus.