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Danceable presents a beautiful story of perseverance at the 2023 New Jersey International Film Festival


By Eva Iskhakova

originally published: 06/02/2023

Danceable presents a beautiful story of perseverance at the 2023 New Jersey International Film Festival

Danceable, a short film directed by Kelsey McGee, sheds light on the journeys of dancers with disabilities, depicting both their hardships as well as their positive experiences and passions for the creative art form.

This short film truly showcases the beauty in dance as a whole, from non-particular to traditional forms of dance. In a world of judgment and misconception, McGee portrays disabilities in the dance world as beautiful, graceful, and just as capable as non disabled individuals. Not only does the short film separate the stories of specific dancers, but it also signifies their unity with the rest of the world, dancing in harmony with a collection of different bodies, rather than in isolation.

Providing a broader perspective for viewers, the short film primarily focuses on the individual experiences of several dancers with various conditions. Through interviews conducted with three disabled dancers, viewers can visualize different reasons for pursuing dance and the ways in which people adapt to their limitations.

Lark, a deaf choreographer, speaks of their process of feeling music with their body rather than simply hearing it. They mention their struggles growing up as they were told they didn’t have the proper body for ballet, as well as how they grew from the experience as it fostered their determination. Janpi uses their wheelchair as a prop during their dances and appreciates the opportunity to showcase their identity throughout. They believe that traditional dance forms should be adapted to fit different and unique body types like their own. Marci utilizes dance as a hobby and a means of expression, persevering past her diagnosis of down syndrome. Her mother mentions that she was told that Marci wouldn’t survive past a young age, but she has only pushed past her limitations since then.

Not only do Lark, Janpi, and Marci dance and perform for their personal fulfillment and enjoyment, they also teach classes to others, spreading creativity and motivation as they do so. In sharing their stories and their choreography, they each encourage other dancers with disabilities to come forth and push past their struggles and potential insecurities in order to dance.



 
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Alongside its focus on the lives of these dancers, the short film simultaneously incorporates information on the three dancers’ participation in groups that promote and teach dance. Through AXIS, a physically integrated dance company founded in 1987, people both with and without disabilities can perform together. This company allows Janpi to conduct classes on wheelchair techniques as well as to perform on stage with a group, adjusting typical movements to their own body. Marci is involved with the Straight Up Abilities Dance Company. Lark is an independent choreographer. 

The short film concludes with a montage of Lark, Janpi, and Marci performing in their preferred styles of dance, confident and secure in their bodies. Enveloped in the surroundings of mellifluous music, the dancers fall into their element, utilizing dance as a form of expression, portrayal of identity, and symbol of tenacity. The depiction is as inspiring as it is eye opening to the general public as well as to the audience of other dancers with disabilities searching for their creative outlet.

For a beautiful new perspective and a glimpse into the lives of disabled dancers, this short film is an incredible must-see. Come witness Kelsey McGee’s glorious documentary on the perseverance of dancers with disabilities and their individual journeys at the 2023 New Jersey International Film Festival.

Danceable screens at the 2023 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 4 as part of Shorts Program #2. The film will be Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 5 PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ. Tickets are available for purchase hereDanceable Director Kelsey McGee will be at this screening along with a few of the other filmmakers to do a Q+A session with the audience after the show.


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