Adaptive wheelchair dancing hit the American scene in 1972, and has been an important social and creative outlet for people with all levels of ability ever since. Unlike many adaptive sports, wheelchair dancing allows people of all abilities and ages to participate in a recreational activity together.
Wheelchair dance originated in Sweden in 1968, as a form of recreational therapy. It soon became recognized as “Wheelchair Dance Sport,” holding its first international competition in Japan in 1998. The sport is practiced in 40 countries, the U.S. being home to over 20 well-respected wheelchair dance companies.
The Axis Dance Company, of Oakland, CA, was founded in 1987, and regularly tours the country. New York Times dance critic, Bruce Weber, recently reviewed an Axis Dance performance.
“Like much that is surprising in art…Axis’s work instructs the viewer in how to appreciate it, and the lesson is delivered with cogent force: Sympathy is irrelevant. Forget what isn’t here, and pay attention to what is. Recognize the chairs for what they are and not as substitutes for what they are not.”
To see what he’s talking about, here’s a look at a recent performance.
Ginger Lane was a dancer and choreographer before she became quadriplegic at age 42. She decided to try wheelchair dance after her SCI, and has become an active member of the movement. She doesn’t pretend that dancing in a wheelchair is the same as it was before she was injured, but she still enjoys the creative and artistic outlet it gives her. To hear more from Ginger on wheelchair dance, watch her answer to: “What role has adaptive sports played in your life?”
To learn more or to find a dance company in your area, visit Wheelchair DanceSport USA.