Counter Balance VII, a wheelchair dance concert recently performed in Chicago, showcased a mixed company of able-bodied dancers with those using wheelchairs. The concert was produced and choreographed by Ginger Lane, who also performed in the show. She says the mixing of able-bodied performers and those in wheelchairs is known as physically integrated dance. “It’s our mission to bring awareness of this type of dance and of the incredible strength and capabilities of people in wheelchairs.”
Lane was injured in 1984 at age 44. “Prior to my injury, I had been a choreographer, a performer and a teacher for many years. Today, it’s not the same; I don’t pretend that it is the same as being a stand-up dancer. Nevertheless, it allows me the creativity, the freedom of movement, the experience of moving in time and space, and to music, and to choreograph. So I can create, and I continue to do that.”
But Lane and the dancers all say that they set their sights on more than the excitement and satisfaction of performance. Stephanie Clemens, co-artistic director for the ensemble, reminds the audience before the show that although the mainstream is accustomed to seeing dance as a series of fast-paced flips and tricks all stuffed into 30 minutes, “Counter Balance is more about what it’s like to experience life as a human being.” And enthusiastic audiences agreed that’s exactly what happened during the 90-minute performance.