The Rhythm Works curriculum helps students improve communication and motor development. Photo courtesy of Rhythm Works Integrative Dance

Terms like "proprioceptive" and "vestibular input" don't often come up in the dance studio. But for Rhythm Works Integrative Dance (RWID) founder Tricia Gomez, they were the "magic words" that convinced a reluctant school principal to give dance a try.

Gomez's hip hop–based curriculum fuses rhythm and dance for students with learning differences. Launch Preschool in Torrance, California, serves children or adults who have autism or other disabilities. Their partnership is one of many that Gomez has built since the program's implementation in 2015. In some cases RWID is delivered in schools that cater to disabled students, such as Launch, but in others, it's used in programs where these students are mainstreamed.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Participants in the Croi Glan Integrated Dance Training Workshop improvise a "satellite score." Photo by Rachel Caldwell

I recently had the pleasure of attending, not one, but two workshops on teaching integrative dance. The first was a six-day intensive in February with Cork, Ireland–based Croí Glan Integrated Dance Company. The second was a three-hour workshop last night with Oakland, California–based AXIS Dance Company. Both companies are made up of dancers with and without physical disabilities. In these workshops, I learned tools for teaching dance to physically and intellectually disabled populations. Here are some of the do's and don'ts.

Keep reading... Show less
In 2015, Rodgers collaborated with choreographers Kristin Fieseler Alexander, of Annex Dance, and Jonathan Tabbort and Stephen Gabriel, of Ballet Evolution Charleston, for a physically integrated performance. From left: Cathy Cabaniss, Julie DeLizza, Rodgers. Photo by Adam Chandler Photography, courtesy of Rodgers

Life changed for Marka Danielle Rodgers four years ago when a driver ran a red light and T-boned her car. The crash left her an incomplete quadriplegic (meaning she still has some nerve function below the point of injury), but it hasn't stopped her from teaching ballet. Now, she leads class from her wheelchair, using hand and arm motions to explain each combination. She talks through corrections and verbalizes even the tiny technical details that are often just easily shown. When she does leave her chair, she leads floor barre–like exercises on the ground. Then she gets back in her chair.

Rodgers, who worked with Ailey II in the late 1970s, has regained much mobility and strength in her arms and upper torso since the accident. In addition to teaching ballet at several dance studios in the Charleston, South Carolina, area, she leads a total-body strengthening and wellness regimen she calls Ultimate Physicality. And while teaching from a wheelchair poses quite a few limitations, in some ways, those limitations have enhanced her teaching.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Trending