the power of dance

Dance Company Moves Equity Forward Through Art

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In Boston, dance is being used to “disrupt antiquated ablest beliefs.” That’s the mission of Ellice Patterson, the founder and executive director of Abilities Dance Boston.

Patterson says the dance company uses the artform “to promote intersectional disability rights in the greater Boston area and beyond.” 

She adds, “We have our professional performing company, which is adult artists with and without disabilities that are dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers, costume designers, so many more that are putting on really high-quality productions and being a source of representation on stage.”

Patterson says an upsetting experience at an audition was part of her inspiration to start Abilities Dance.

She tells NBC10 Boston, “I was consistently not being able to find spaces that were meant for me, and bodies like mine, but also not telling stories that really resonated with my identities and others’ identities as well.

So, when a director said that they wouldn’t modify because they were a professional company, I decided I would modify to create a professional company that would," she says.

Now the cast and crew of Abilities Dance is getting ready to perform a reimagined “Firebird” ballet in May, for a virtual audience.

Patterson says, “There are diverse artists both within and outside of the disabled community that are from across the country contributing to this ballet. And it is really exciting to be able to take this… this fairy tale, and reimagine what it means to be the heroes and villains of our own stories, to be able to see how these diverse identities really contribute to the fabric of an incredible story.”

Abilities Dance also holds workshops and lectures on inclusivity and disability rights.

Patterson says the intersectional work converges with dance because “art has always shifted cultural narratives,” and,“Once folks start to see that we’re people of beauty and strength and work, then we can lead to the conversations of being able to talk about accessible housing and Medicare and so many issues that we face in the community.”

Got to abilitiesdanceboston.org for more information on the company and on Firebird, premiering May 14th and 15th at the Wimberly Theater for a remote audience.

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