SANDWICH – Flip the pancake, do the monkey, walk like an Egyptian.
Twenty-two clients of Open Door Rehabilitation Center recently “danced through the decades” while performing a mini-show for a large audience of family, friends and staff at their workshop in Sandwich.
“I cannot say enough good things about the performance. The clients clearly loved it,” case manager Jess Key said in a news release. “It brought tears to my eyes.”
Open Door clients have been taking dance classes for almost a year at Dance with Flair, a studio in Oswego. Owner and instructor Angela Flaherty said she has a plan in mind before Open Door students arrive, then she modifies steps and movements to adapt to the abilities of the class, such as adding extra hand movements for dancers who use wheelchairs.
Of the 22 clients participating in the recital, five were individuals who use wheelchairs. They were free to use their hands and arms to dance while staff members “motored” their wheelchairs for them. The dance experience allows clients to enjoy exercise, energy and friendships. Familiar music and songs have a way of generating happy memories, and provide a commonality that everyone can enjoy together.
The dancers performed routines to music from the 1940s through the 2000s.
“They all enjoy moving, even if they can’t get the steps just right. I marvel at how much fun even our dancers using wheelchairs have,” case manager Mary Kay Longwell said in the release.
Longwell initiated the program and oversaw the mini-show performance. She has worked hard to involve as many clients as possible in this activity, and hopes to offer the opportunity to even more individuals this fall.
Dance is a learning tool that helps individuals to grow personally and socially in a safe environment, something Open Door embraces. And for the clients, they felt comfortable and proud, performing in the recital.
“These dancers turned into performers for this half-hour show,” Flaherty said in the release. “They really hammed things up with all their dancing and smiles and laughing. I couldn’t even hear the music at times because they were whooping it up so loud. I truly feel that every dancer has flair, and all of the Open Door clients definitely put their own flair into it.”
Open Door is a nonprofit facility that provides services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, enriching their quality of life. Donations help drive their programming. For information, visit odrc.org or call 815-786-8468.