History of Accomplishments
In 2013, Ladonna Freidheim received a DCASE Individual Artist Award for the development of an adapted dance program including a Dance Party Workshop for teens with disabilities. This wildly successful project led to weekly ongoing dance classes for students with disabilities and community engagement opportunities. Students reported feeling pride for the very first time.
In 2014, ReinventAbility was incorporated as a 501(c)3. A FaceBook page was created to promote inclusion by sharing resources and information. In addition to ongoing weekly disability dance classes, a 3Arts grant supported a series of workshops for veterans at the Hines VA. Participants reported improvement in mood, decreased need for the assistance of a cane, and that their lives were “better because of this class”.
In 2015, ReinventAbility launched an internship program for dance students with disabilities. Our first intern went on to become an Apprentice Dance Instructor. We were honored to be featured twice by Adapt Productions. The programs aired on CAN-TV in Chicago and were distributed internationally via Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. With these programs we were able to reach and inspire countless people to seek and to provide inclusion.
Thanks to a CityArts grant in 2016, ReinventAbility was able to open the minds students and instructors to inclusion possibilities at the Hyde Park School of Dance, Chicago Public Schools, Dance Center of Columbia College, and the Joffrey Academy of Dance. We also participated in the Midwest Convening on Physically Integrated Dance.
Programming expanded in 2017. At ICRE, despite the Illinois budget crisis, we were able to continue programming thanks to a grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. ReinventAbility was also honored to collaborate with Sherry Zunker, renowned choreographer and co-founder of River North Dance, adapting her BeMoved program to include participants with disabilities and promote inclusion throughout their nationwide network of instructors.
2018 saw the launch of our first website. ReinventAbility was thrilled to sponsor inclusion of a wheelchair dancer in the premiere of Amira: A Chicago Cinderella Story. This performance marked the first time a wheelchair dancer performed an integrated-dance work onstage at the Logan Center For The Arts. Promotion of this collaboration introduced inclusion possibilities to local school children.
In 2019 we were honored to expand our Board of Directors to include award winning choreographer and dancer Ginger Lane, a physically-integrated dance pioneer. Our work this year strengthened the disability dance community by establishing new, and augmenting existing, collaborations. For the sixth season in a row, we closed out the year promoting inclusion at the only Nutcracker production on the disadvantaged south side of Chicago.
In response to the 2020 Pandemic lockdown, we moved what programming we could online. ReinventAbility collaborated with MOMENTA, Access Living, and Bodies of Work, to produce a five day virtual festival in celebration of the 10th anniversary of CounterBalance: The Power Of Integrated Dance - the only professional dance production featuring Chicago artists with disabilities.
2021 brought growth and possibilities. With a cautious return to in-person programming, classes resumed and ReinventAbility became co-producer of the Chicago Inclusive Dance Festival. ReinventAbility was honored to win a Digital Dance Award from the Chicago DanceMakers Forum, enabling us to develop a new software program for the purpose of dance and technology exploration.
Continued growth in 2022 included expansion of our outreach efforts to bring improved inclusion of students with disabilities to the Chicago Public School System. ReinventAbility also worked with DCASE to bring disabled dancers into the Chicago Summer Dance program for the first time ever. We also introduced DisFest, a new and original approach to engaging the public with the disability arts.
In 2023, ReinventAbility will launch DisFest - a new annual festival celebrating the disability arts!