BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (PRWEB) March 23, 2015 - When Cheryl Angelelli broke her neck in a swimming accident at the tender age of 14, she never imagined she would, years later, elegantly dance across the parquet in a ballroom dance studio, yearning to compete. That’s exactly what the Clinton Township resident is now doing, thanks to a special dance instructor named Sergio Sanchez at Fred Astaire Dance Studio.
In fact, Angelelli is not only preparing herself to perform as a wheelchair dancer; she is spearheading a movement in Michigan, creating opportunities for other individuals in wheelchairs to learn to ballroom dance. Angelelli applied for and received a grant from the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan Foundation to subsidize a wheelchair dance workshop at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which will take place on Saturday, May 2nd, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for a maximum of 15 individuals in wheelchairs. (Partners are not necessary.)
The workshop will be hands-on and experiential, says Evan Mountain, FADS owner with his wife Lada. From there, the grant will enable other wheelchair dance group lessons, he says, as group lessons provide an affordable way to learn to dance.
Group lessons were the foremost way dancers in wheelchairs gained new skills on the parquet in Ecuador, says Sanchez, who is new to FADS and to America. The Quito, Ecuador native has been dancing since he was 14 and has traveled the world competing, performing and teaching ballroom dance.
In Ecuador, he was a devoted part of the growth of the ballroom dance industry, including creating a dance federation, and he wrote his master’s thesis on wheelchair dance, creating a new perception toward the development of activities for people with disabilities.
Wheelchair dancing is big sport in other countries, but is slow to catch on here in America. The sport was pioneered in Sweden in 1968 and grew in popularity; the first competition took place in Sweden in 1975, according to the International Paralympic Committee, which is based in Germany. The first international competition took place in 1977. Wheelchair dance became a Paralympic sport in 1998. The IPC Wheelchair Dance World Championships are held every two years.
It’s an elegant sport, which can include one physically disabled partner or two. Wheelchair dance is practiced in 29 countries; participants use special wheelchairs with slanted wheels to allow for more agile mobility.
It’s not about swinging the wheelchair around the dance floor, Sanchez says. It’s an integrated partnership between him and Angelelli, involving trust, choreography and a lot of core strength.
Angelelli is one of those superstars who doesn’t see limitation. She has built a solid career in media, both as a broadcast journalist and as a public relations professional, all while training to compete as a swimmer in the Paralympics, where she won bronze and silver medals and is a seven-time world champion. She still holds 15 American records and two world records.
“I miss dancing more than I miss walking,” says Angelelli, who danced throughout her childhood until swimming consumed her athletic attention.
In 2013, she retired from Paralympic swimming after 15 years in the sport. "When I retired from competitive swimming, it left this huge void in my life. Nothing gave me the same excitement or adrenaline rush swimming did until I started wheelchair ballroom dancing."
Angelelli began dancing with Sanchez in October 2014.
“I know how much joy dancing has brought me, and I want to share it with other people and help them experience the freedom of movement.”
Now, when she goes out with friends or attends a wedding, Angelelli doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines and watch others dance. “Now, I feel comfortable to go out and do it,” she says.
“If Cheryl can dance, there’s no reason someone who can use their feet can’t dance,” says Mountain. “Ballroom dance truly is possible and accessible for everyone who wants to give it a try. It’s so empowering, confidence-building and of course, fun.”
Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Bloomfield Hills is the largest ballroom dance studio in the state of Michigan. Opened in 2005 by Evan and Lada Mountain, the studio is part of a nationwide franchise that requires daily training for its teachers, who are dedicated to teaching dance full-time.
The studio’s mission is to enrich lives by building confidence, connection and community through ballroom dance. Private lessons, group lessons and dance parties are open to the public, featuring students ranging in age from teens to retirees and seniors.
Learn more at http://www.fredastaire.com/bloomfield-hills/. The studio is located at 2172 Franklin Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302, 248-454-1715.
Fred Astaire Dance Studio Wheelchair Dance Workshop
Saturday, May 2, 2015
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
limited to 15 participants (partners are not necessary)
SOURCE Fred Astaire Dance Studio
Your People, LLC