Rolling Without Limits

Your mobility may be limited. Your voice, boundless.

Seated Dance: Empowering Wheelchair Users to Shake It
Facebook Tweet Google+ Pinterest Email More Sharing Options

Seated Dance: Empowering Wheelchair Users to Shake It

Maybe you’ve heard of hot yoga, pole dancing, or extreme pilates classes that have been all the rage, but now a new seated dance craze is taking the world of dance classes by storm. Designed to introduce wheelchair users to the world of dance, seated dance classes put able-bodied dances and dances with disabilities on an even dance floor.

Many individuals who use equipment for daily mobility are actually limited by that same equipment when it comes to participating in sports, dance, or other physical activity. Often, these individuals are not given the same opportunity to participate or must adapt their ability to the activity. Thankfully, many organizations have begun offering dance activities that adapt to their students.

It was this very school of thought that inspired Jo Matzner to introduce two seated ballet classes to her dance school in Madison, WI when she was recovering from an illness. In fact, she explains her inspiration for the classes in an interview with The Cap Times stating, “"What if you had MS (multiple sclerosis)?...What if you used a wheelchair? What if you had any myriad of other things, (like) muscular dystrophy, but you wanted to dance?...What if you had a child who had never had an opportunity to take a class, because they were only for standing dancers?"

Matzner did not want illness, disability, or injury to stop anyone from having the opportunity to learn ballet and experience the exhilarating feeling from dance. It’s not just people like Matzner who are recognizing the gift that dance can provide – the seated dance movement is spreading to communities across the country.

So what is seated dance?

Seated dance classes offer participants the same ability to learn and enhance the same movements as able-bodied dances from the waist – up. So even though seated dancer’s feet may never leave the ground, they are expressing all the same emotions and upper-body movements as traditional dancers. Seated dance is also sometimes known as chair dance and can not only provide emotional and creative benefits, but also provide healthy physical benefits like improved range of motion, muscle tone, and flexibility. Seated dance is a great low-impact alternative to exercise for individuals facing mobility impairments and classes are becoming more widely available in all dance genres from ballet to modern and jazz styles.

To learn more about Jo Matzner’s seated ballet classes, read more at: http://host.madison.com/news/local/city-life/new-seated-ballet-classes-teach-pirouettes-on-wheels/article_96252c1c-6de9-5bad-89cd-cfe14eb5fa2c.html#ixzz34I5Us3CF

Have you ever participated in seated dance or attended a chair dancing performance? Would you sign up for a chair dance class if offered in your community? Share your experience in the comments!

More about dance, activity, inclusion

Leave a Comment

  1. Edwise
    Edwise
    I have been square dancing in my wheelchair, with able-bodied dance groups, for over 10 years, and have been involved with a square dance group here in Morgantown since 2006. And this year, I've taken up swing dancing, with a student swing dance club at West Virginia University. (The swing classes are open to the entire community.) Amy, David and Johnny, the instructors at Swing Dance WVU, have shown to be very accommodating to me and my wheelchair, and we've been figuring out ways we can adapt the moves for my chair.
    Log in to reply.
    1. WheelerWife
      WheelerWife
      Edwise, thank you for sharing! That sounds like a blast - it's so much fun to hear about different dance styles and how they can be adapted for your chair!
      Log in to reply.
    2. WheelerWife
      WheelerWife
      Edwise, thank you for sharing! That sounds like a blast - it's so much fun to hear about different dance styles and how they can be adapted for your chair!
      Log in to reply.
  2. Edwise
    Edwise
    An addendum. In April, I participated with WVU Swing Dance in a "Dancing with the Cars" competition run by our local GM dealership. We won first place and $1000 for our group. Here is the video for our routine. You can see me rocking out in my wheelchair to the left, behind the main dancers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrFuXED60j8
    Log in to reply.

Top Posts in Lifestyle

Sign Up to Vote!

10 second sign-up with Facebook or Google

Already a member? Log in to vote.