Award-winning dancer and Paralympian Cheryl Angelelli and her professional partner, Tamerlan Gadirov, recently visited Fort Wayne to help kick off Northeast Indiana’s first adapted ballroom dance program. Angelelli and Gadirov’s visit marked the first class in the adapted ballroom dance program in Turnstone. Classes will continue on Tuesday evening with instructions from Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Fort Wayne.

During their visit to Fort Wayne, Angelelli and Gadirov also performed one of their award-winning routines, showing attendees and attendees just how fun the art and sport of wheelchair ballroom dancing can be and advances. The choreography of the duo consisted mainly of different sequences of steps, twists and turns of the wheel.

Adapted ballroom dancing is an approved Paralympic sport and is not much different from standard ballroom dancing, other than one partner using a wheelchair to move them around the dance floor while the couple coordinate rhythmic movements to the music. With the arms together, the seated partner can push against the standing partner to gain leverage to move their chair. The standing partner takes the lead and can guide the direction of the chair.

Participants in the dance class at Turnstone will be introduced to various styles of dance. As they hone their dance skills, they might have the opportunity to join the competitive field of adapted ballroom dancing with Angelelli and Gadirov. Elite wheelchair ballroom dancers hone advanced skills and tricks such as lifting the partner and their chair into the air or tilting the chair on its wheels.

Carmen Schlatter, director of dance at Fred Astaire, said her team had anticipated the launch of this program since receiving her certification training in July 2019. Schlatter said the event ended up exceeding their expectations and that they planned to make dancing an opportunity for every individual.

“We look forward to empowering people with disabilities alongside Turnstone by enriching their lives through the beauty of dance and all that comes with it – exercise, touch, sociability and, most importantly, fun,” said Schlatter.

The expectations of the Turnstone staff were also exceeded with 12 dancers in attendance. Adapted ballroom dancing will continue in Turnstone and is open to all people of all abilities. For more information on how you can dance with Turnstone, call 260.483.2100.

Waynedale News Staff
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