DanceAbility, Inclusive Dance with Yulia and Aaron

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This blog follows Dance Wire’s Founder/Director Emily Running in her adventures taking new dance classes all over Portland.

If I had to choose three words to sum up this class they would be trust, tenderness, and expansion.

This class is held at Echo Theatre on SE 37th just south of Hawthorne and is co-led by Aaron Wheeler-Key and Yulia Arakeylan (one of Dance Wire’s fabulous Ambassadors!). Aaron is a certified instructor through DanceAbility International, an organization who’s mission “is to create opportunities for people with and without disabilities to dance and move together.” Yulia is co-director of Wobbly Dance, a dance theatre performance company, that firmly believes “making a home for ourselves in the contemporary dance community has gone further towards promoting the full integration of people with disabilities in society than any political action on our part ever will.“

The class begins with a circle where we each check in about any boundaries, sensitivities or instructions on how to interact with us that day. Everyone is encouraged to honor their present experience. We then went in to a 20 minute or so warm up to explore our own movement. After the warm up were a series of specific exercises that offered direction for how to focus our movement, such as, exploring one specific body part (hand, ribcage, knee) in any possible way you could think of. Another exercise was a movement-only back and forth conversation with a partner.

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The final 10 minutes of class urged more creativity in our movement, while welcoming, but not requiring, further interaction with the other dancers in the room. The music began with a more theatrical feel but halfway through switched to something more upbeat which instantly seemed to change the atmosphere from serious, to joyful. (the video shows the second half.)

I was an aerialist for seven years, and aerial is a style of dance in which you truly learn to trust people with your life. I found this class to have two very strong layers of trust at play as well, one with yourself and one with the others in the room. Movement and physical expression can be vulnerable, but this class explores a level of physical-emotional sensing that draws out a deeper connection both to yourself and to those around you. Everyone should try this class.

This class happens every Monday from 1:30 – 2:55 at Echo Theatre. You might also check out the All Abilities Dance Jam the first Sunday of every month.

Take class at Echo Theater.

Take class with Wobbly Dance.

Find more Portland-area dance classes on Dance Wire’s Find A Class Directory.