EUGENE, Ore. -- Danceability in Eugene stands alone as the only group involved in the state department’s Arts Envoy Program that teaches dance to the disabled.
For Karen Daly, Danceability gave her a shot at a life changing experience.
“What it did for me was it brought me into my body in a way that I hadn't been,” Daly said.
Karen lost her leg to cancer when she was 11 years old. Rather than letting her disability get in the way of enjoying activities, she began taking dance lessons 20 years ago.
Karen said the inspiration for dance came from seeing a disabled man perform on stage.
“The courage of that man … I cried throughout the whole thing and I went back the next night,” Daly said. “I was so moved. The next day I looked for a dance class for myself.”
Karen said she now has the opportunity to share the same experience with the world as both Daly and the artistic director of Danceability, Alito Alessi, will be bringing their dance to Indonesia, Mongolia and the Philippines.
The dance duo was asked to be art envoys for the United States by the state department.
Danceibility is the first group in the arts envoy program that integrates dancers with and without disabilities.
Alessi told KVAL News that Danceability is “trying to confront and face the problem of isolation, because we don't feel that anyone's physical characteristic or unique mental way of thinking is a problem.”
As an envoy, they will be teaching several dance workshops on his method in each country over the course of a month. Alessi is excited for the opportunity but says he is aware of the challenges the trip may face.
“The idea of touch… we are going to be in Muslim countries, for example, we have been told we should wear long shirts, no shorts. So already you get this idea that there are cultural differences,” Alessi said.
Daly says the trip is a dream come true, as she has always wanted to visit Mongolia.
“I hope they come away with the same kind of excitement and enthusiasm that I have the whole time I've been doing this,” Karen said.
Danceability has started a campaign to raise money for a professional videographer for a documentary about their trip. They opened a Kickstarter account to help raise funds to hire a crew before leave next week.