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Dance invites ‘All Bodies’

The All Bodies Dance class engages with South Vancouver community centre.

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Reported by Agazy Mengesha

A dance program aimed at giving disabled people a means to express themselves continues to grow since it first started operating for over four years ago.

The All Bodies Dance class was established in 2014 to create an integrated dance program that includes all bodies, including those with disabilities.

Harmanie Taylor was recruited because of her background in dance.

“The program started because there was a need for it in the community, there was no integrated dance for people with disabilities, people without disabilities to come together,” Taylor said.

“They did a few workshops before actually starting getting the grant and doing the big whole semester project, and the first year was so successful that we all decided to keep going,” she said.

Community funded dance class

The program offers classes throughout Vancouver and at Sunset Community Centre. Mawi Bagon, the centre’s recreation programmer, said that it is one of the only programs subsidized by the

 community centre.

“We subsidize programs, so the association will be paying for the instructors and the space and it’d be free for participants,” Bagon said.

Participant Janice Laurence started dancing in September 2017. It all started with someone else’s shoelace being untied, she said.

“She ran up to the bus stop and I was sitting in my wheelchair because I couldn’t walk at the time, and her shoelace was undone so I said, ‘Oh your shoelace is undone’, and she said ‘I’m just on my way to dance class.’”

Finding meaning through dancing

Laurence had searched for a dance class that wouldn’t get in the way of her wheelchair.

“Nobody judges me. Nobody says ‘What’s the matter with you?’ or ‘How could you be a dancer if you don’t have a normal body?’ It’s just everything is accepted, and there’s always a way to move your body and be creative,” Laurence said.

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