DanceAbility creates a space for all

It’s open to everyone. It allows for the inclusion of all body types. It’s “the art of being together,” according to instructor Jana Meszaros. It’s DanceAbility and it meets every Monday in Cottage Grove at Opal Theatre.

DanceAbility is a dance class that has cohorts around the globe and is promoted as a class for all body types and all abilities. 

“Whether you have experience or not, whether you have different abilities or not, getting together and creating movement is valuable to anyone,” Maszaros said. 

Maszaros, who has been involved in the industry her entire career, became one of 700 certified instructors and began a class in Cottage Grove three years ago. According to DanceAbility International, the program found its roots more than 30 years ago. 

“In 1987, Alito Alessi and his dance partner Karen Nelson began exploring mixed-abilities dance after being inspired by an article that appeared in Contact Quarterly magazine. Together they created the term DanceAbility (DA). Their company, Joint Forces Dance Company (JFDC) produced its first mixed-abilities workshop in 1987 using the dance vocabulary of contact improvisation,” the organization’s website reads. 

Meszaros said she was drawn to the program after meeting Alessi at an industry event. 

“I realized how special this part of the industry is. It weaves together dance, art, social activism and community,” she said. “It’s a lovely way for me to participate in my community and still work with dance and art.”

DanceAbility meets every Monday at 5:15 p.m. at Opal Theatre on Main St., a location Meszaros says has been supportive since the start. Currently, the classes run on a sliding scale from $80 to $100 for 10 weeks or $10 for drop-ins.

“We don’t turn anyone away for their inability to pay, though. If you really want to participate, we find a way,” Meszaros said, noting the program’s scholarship opportunities. 

The Cottage Grove class has ranged from 15 members down to five last year and ages vary as well, though Maszaros said teens tend to drop in and the age limits are fluid.

And while DanceAbility meets in the theatre, the classes do not put on a final show.

“There’s an open house in Eugene at the end of the term and the Cottage Grove class has the option to perform,” Meszaros said.

Anyone interested in joining DanceAbility can contact Meszaros at [email protected] or stop by the Opal Center on Mondays during scheduled classes

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