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 Award and crowdfunding opportunity 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 many people with and without disabilities to seek and to provide inclusion.
Collaborations were the focus of 2016. Thanks to a CityArts grant, ReinventAbility was able to build relationships with the Hyde Park School of Dance and a Chicago Public School as well as instructors and students at the Dance Center of Columbia College and the Joffrey Academy of Dance. Inclusion was introduced to students and teachers who had little to no previous exposure, opening minds to increased opportunities. We also participated in the Midwest Convening on Physically Integrated Dance.
Programming expanded in 2017 to include an additional CPS school. 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 the national network of BeMoved 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 historic collaboration marked the first time a wheelchair dancer was included in a Hyde Park School of Dance program and the first time physically-integrated dance was performed onstage at the Logan Center For The Arts. Promotion of this collaboration introduced inclusion possibilities to local school children. ReinventAbility also participated in CounterBalance: The Power of Integrated Dance. Both productions enjoyed great success!
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 augmenting existing and establishing new collaborations. For the sixth season in a row, we closed out the year promoting inclusion at the much lauded, and 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, as much as safely possible, classes for teens and young adults with disabilities resumed and new dance works by disabled choreographers were created and premiered. ReinventAbility was honored to win a very competitive Digital Dance Award from the Chicago DanceMakers Forum, enabling us to invent a new software program for the purpose of dance and technology exploration!