“Making MAGIC”: Partnering and Collaborating to Make Dance Accessible for More People with Disabilities

Four people (one child, two women, one man) smile after dancing and making music.
“Sarah said she loves to dance and sing with her friends, especially when there is live music!” said her mom. Sarah M. is one of nearly 100 people with and without disabilities, who danced and made music thanks to BalletRox and friends.

BalletRox has been making dance accessible and affordable for Boston-area young people since 1992. Adaptive dance programming and generous scholarships ensure that, every year, several hundreds of Boston young people have a chance to dance.

Thanks to our friends at Partners for Youth with Disabilities and Liberty Mutual Foundation, we are expanding our reach to ensure that people with disabilities, young and old, of any racial background, low-income or not, can experience the joy of dance.

Last year, we collaborated with Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (JBBBS) of Greater Boston to present a three-week series of dance, movement, and music for nearly 100 participants in their MAGIC program, which pairs friends with and without disabilities for long-term friendship. What a blessing to be able to experience the joy of dance with this amazing group!

Held at Temple Zion in Brookline, attendees arrived via the Ride or Uber; others walked from nearby homes. Some danced with canes or walkers, some used their wheelchairs; others with low-vision relied on their friends to help them navigate the dancing space. Everyone danced! Everyone made music! Everyone seemed joyful!

The wonderful David Hero accompanied the dancing with a variety of hand percussion instruments, such as the djembe, kpanlogo, bongos, and dundun. Friends skipped, jumped, and moved like water to the pulsing rhythms. Many participants created their own rhythm on an electronic drum pad in a call and response activity, and after a rocking good time improvising to “We Will, We Will, Rock You,” we took a break from dancing to make tambourines and learn how to play them!

Most of us know that dance provides many measurable benefits. Watching the BalletRox and JBBBS communities come together in joyful dance, in a supportive and inclusive environment was magical: pure joy and happiness. Together, we made MAGIC!