We are thrilled to be sharing the exquisite joy of dancing!
Ladonna Freidheim, founder of ReinventAbility, is passionate about inclusion, dance, science, and joy! An award winning leader in the arts, disability inclusion specialist, and formally trained dancer; Ladonna grew up a bun-headed baby ballerina dancing around Chicago, mostly South-side. After a degenerative disability ended her ballerina life, she recovered from surgeries with future paralympic athletes who introduced her to disability culture. With the aid of braces and a cane or crutches she is able to navigate the world much of the time, but it is Ladonna’s wheelchair that has restored her dancers soul. A masters degree in occupational therapy contributes considerable expertise to her work adapting choreography and promoting inclusion. In 2006 Ladonna joined Dance>Detour, the first physically-integrated professional performance company in Chicago. She currently performs with the MOMENTA Dance Company. Ladonna is honored to have received a 2023 Leadership in Dance Award, has been nominated for 3Arts Awards in dance and education, is a Make A Wave recipient, was appointed to an NEA dance panel, serves on the See Chicago Dance Board of Directors and the Chicago ArtsEd Leadership Committee.
Adil Javed, MD PhD, joined our Board Of Directors in 2020. He is a professor of Neurology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Dr. Javed completed his medical training at Yale University and earned a doctoral degree in neuroscience at Loyola University. He is an expert in autoimmune diseases of the brain and spine, including multiple sclerosis, lupus, Sjögren's disease, and other related connective tissue diseases. Dr.Javed presents internationally on his research, and has been recognized as one of the top doctors in the field of Neurology by Chicago Magazine.
Ginger Lane, joined our Board of Directors in 2019. She is an award winning dancer and choreographer. Lane appeared in WTTW's award winning film Dance From The Heart, won a 3Arts Award and a UIC fellowship, was named one of Chicago's notable women by the Mayor in 2022, and most recently received a Distinguished Service to The Dance Field Award from See Chicago Dance. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and ReinventAbility. As a founding member of the Disability Arts Culture Consortium, Lane collaborated with disabled artists to present 2 arts festivals in 2006 and 2013. In 2008 she conceived and produced the first Counter Balance: the Power of Integrated Dance, which recently completed its 12th annual showing. Lane currently serves on the Cultural Advisory Council for the City of Chicago. Additional information at /GingerLane
Susan Ojala Myers joined our Board Of Directors in 2022. She grew up in Oak Park, IL, and there she began dancing. Ojala has performed with ReinventAbility, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the MOMENTA Dance Company, in contemporary, integrated, and historic works. She is passionate about teaching dance and has been working with dancers of all ages and abilities for over 20 years. Ojala also runs several outreach dance programs in elementary schools and is certified in the AccepDance method designed to be inclusive of neurodivergent students, especially those on the Autism spectrum.
Robert Lee Williams, Instructor (pictured left) is a trained Latin dancer. Prior to an accident resulting in spinal cord injury, Robby performed with Tango 21. He is now a wheelchair dancer with the MOMENTA Dance Company. Robby has been honored with a 3Arts/UIC Fellowship and the Ginger Lane Award for emerging choreographers.
Jonathan St. Clair, Instructor (pictured right) is an experienced Hip-Hop, Break Dance, and Beat Box performer and instructor. He joins ReinventAbility as an adaptive hip-hop instructor.
Mia Coulter, Assistant Teacher (pictured right), trained and performed with Dance>Detour. She brings the unique perspective of having been homeless as a child and growing up in an institution for young people with disabilities. With ReinventAbility, Mia returned to that institution as a paid dance instructor to share her experience and success story. Mia has been with ReinventAbility since 2013.
Erica Brown, Teacher's Aide (pictured left), is a graduate of the ReinventAbility ICRE internship program. She attended our inaugural program in 2013 as a participant and has been dancing with us ever since.
Melissa Sallée, was one of the founding members of the ReinventAbility Board of Directors. Sallée trained in classical ballet with Maria Tallchief at Ballet Chicago and the Salt Creek Ballet. Her introduction to professional choreography began with staging period pieces focused on authenticity. As her ideas about movement expanded, Sallée found her true passion in making movement for everyone, regardless of physical or mental barriers. She served as Assistant Director of Dance>Detour. A former member of Civil Air Patrol and parent of two military officers in training, she was the driving force behind the ReinventAbility veterans program.
Ancel Montinelli, was one of the founding member of the ReinventAbility Board of Directors. He is also wheelchair sports athlete and dancer. Ancel is well known as a leader in the field of advocacy for Latinos with disabilities in the United States and in Latin America. He has worked with national agencies and the governments of Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama to create programs and policies to improve the lives of people with disabilities. This includes introducing adapted dance to Costa Rica by organizing workshops and performances by Dance>Detour. Ancel’s work in the disability field has included collaboration on: many research projects related to minorities with disabilities; a self help guide and community needs assessment; an instrument to measure the accessibility of fitness and recreation environments; and projects related to employment. He is a founding member of the ReinventAbility Board of Directors.