Ability360 Hosts Free Wheelchair Ballroom Dancing Clinic

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When Cheryl Angelelli broke her neck in a swimming accident at 14, she never imagined she would be dancing elegantly in a ballroom years later. In fact, Angelelli doesn’t just perform as a wheelchair dancer; she leads a movement across the country to create opportunities for other people in wheelchairs to learn ballroom dancing.

Angelelli and her professional dance partner, Tamerlan Gadirov, a leading American wheelchair ballroom dancing couple, will lead a free 90-minute clinic with professional dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studios of Arizona on Saturday, February 15 from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Ability360 Sports and Fitness Center, 5031 E. Washington St. in Phoenix.

Space is limited. For more information and to register, visit www.ability360.org.

Angelelli is the co-founder of Dance Mobility; a free wheelchair ballroom dancing program created in 2015 at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills, MI, where she and Gadirov train. The free program is supported by a grant from the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan Foundation.

Angelelli has never let her wheelchair define or confine her. After her spinal cord injury, she returned to the pool where she became a four-time Paralympic medalist in swimming and a seven-time world champion. After 16 years of international competition, she retired in 2014.

“When I retired from competitive swimming it left a huge void in my life,” she said. “Nothing gave me the same excitement or adrenaline rush as swimming until I started ballroom dancing in a wheelchair.”

Both Angelelli and Gadirov compete nationally and internationally, having won several dance titles in the United States. Most recently, the pair were featured on Inside Edition, after winning at Fred Astaire World Championships in Las Vegas.

“Cheryl and I are really excited to bring Dance Mobility to Ability360 and show people that there are no limits in life or dance,” says Gadirov.

“I know how much joy dancing has brought me, and I want to share it with other people with disabilities and help them discover freedom of movement,” says Angelelli. “I may not dance with my feet, but I dance with my heart.”

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