The ballroom teacher who lost her foot in last spring’s Boston Marathon bombings captivated the nation with her vow to dance again. A Pittsburgh studio is giving other amputees that chance with an adaptive dance program.

Pittsburgh Dance Center co-owner Holly Kirby came up with the idea after an elderly man with a cane came into the studio and asked if she could teach him to dance. At the time, she’d offered him information on private lessons, but he never returned. Not long after that, in 2012, Embrace Dance Project was born.

Kirby enlisted the help of her husband and studio co-owner Anthony Kirby, a doctor who specializes in pain management, to develop the program. Registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Embrace Dance offers free ballroom dance classes twice a month to people with amputated limbs or severe gait problems.

Students attend to work on their balance, learn a new skill or simply to socialize. “I always wanted to try ballroom dancing,” 28-year-old Ivy Patterson told local newspaper The Almanac. She had her left leg amputated in 2011 due to a staph infection. “When I found out about this, it was a pleasant surprise. It’s a relaxed environment, and you get to meet and talk to new people.”

Students can bring their own partners or dance with volunteers. Attendance can include anywhere from 10 to 30 people. The studio’s website displays the slogan, “Dance! Because it’s cheaper than therapy.” Anthony told The Almanac, “It is therapy, but it’s not a support group. It’s a life group.”

Photo by Julia Rendleman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Boxer Victor Cruz was eliminated yesterday on “Dancing With the Stars,” but the biggest news of the night concerned Adrianne Haslet-Davis, the dance teacher who lost her foot in the Boston Marathon bombings and has inspired the nation and its arts community with her positive attitude and vow to return to the dance floor.

Host Tom Bergeron announced that viewers would hear from Haslet-Davis on next week’s program, when plans will be revealed for “DWTS” to help with the dancer’s recovery. Derek Hough has even invited Haslet-Davis to perform with him on the show when she’s ready. “It’s hard for anyone to understand what she must be going through,” Hough told the Boston Herald. “But if she has the determination and she has the passion…she’s going to be dancing again. It’s not going to slow her down.”

Adrianne Haslet-Davis with her husband, Adam Davis
A dance teacher was among the victims of last week’s Boston Marathon bombings. Adrianne Haslet-Davis and her husband were both badly injured by the second explosion, and doctors were forced to amputate Haslet-Davis’ left foot, bringing many dancers’ worst nightmare to life. The Arthur Murray Dance Studio instructor vows she’ll dance again, however, and even promises to run the marathon next year. “I can’t wallow in woe is me,” she says. In the meantime, Haslet-Davis’ friends and coworkers have established a fundraising page in her name to help with the couple’s medical expenses and rehabilitation: We at DT wish them both speedy recoveries!

Photo: Boston Herald


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