BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) – A local organization is gearing up to launch the nation’s first wheelchair dance competition right here in Michigan.
Dance Mobility’s Adapted Ballroom Dance Competition will take place next month at Roeper Lower School in Bloomfield Hills.
The competition is inspired by the international Para Dance Sport competition. But, organizers say, the US version will be the first of its kind as it will include amputees and other contestants with reduced mobility.
Jade Dixon, 8, is one of the participants. Jade has been dancing for less than a year and thanks to her instructors, Cheryl Angelelli and Tamerlan Gadirove, she is now preparing for the competition.
Jade was 6 months old when she was paralyzed due to a medical complication. But, the little firecracker never let her disability hold her back.
“She dances with so much maturity. She’s an emerging star!” said Cheryl Angelelli, instructor and co-founder of Dance Mobility.
“For me, it’s fun working with her because she gives me a lot of ideas,” said Tamerlan Gadirove, Instructor, Dance Mobility.
In 2015 Cheryl co-founded Dance Mobility with Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Cheryl says the platform gives hope to people with disabilities.
“At first it started as a wheelchair ballroom dancing program, but now it has expanded. We work with amputees who use prosthetics…we want to give those people the opportunity to compete,” said Angelelli of the inspiration behind the creation of Dance Mobility.
Cheryl became a quadriplegic in a diving accident, but she didn’t use that as an excuse. After 14 years of Paralympic swimming and being a 4-time Paralympic medalist, Cheryl turned to ballroom dancing.
Cheryl has teamed up with Tamerlan and for the past 6 years they have competed internationally in Para Dance Sport.
“We are actually the first couple to compete from overseas,” Tamerlan said.
And that’s why the duo is aware of the challenges and the joy that dance brings to people with disabilities.
“It’s all about socialization, peer support, peer resources,” Cheryl said.
Dance Mobility classes at Fred Astaire are free and open to everyone. The program is also available in other states and Cheryl hopes that with the launch of the contest, more people will join.
Meanwhile, little Jade is ready to hit the stage on July 16.
“I don’t care if I win or lose,]I just wanna have fun,” Jade said.
July 1st is the last day to register for the 2022 Dance Mobility Adapted Ballroom Competition.
For more information about the event or to register and purchase tickets, click on the link Fred Astaire Dance Studios.