“I have always been too disabled, too fat, too androgynous, and too unattractive. Those things have no place in DanceAbility. I felt welcomed to dance as I was with no qualifications. It was really a stunning thing to me, to have someone suggest that I could produce dance or beauty with my body; it was such a joy. Growing up as a gimp, I heard that beauty and dancing were not for those with disabilities. I was so happy to have that proved wrong. I felt like I discovered a quality within myself that has never had the chance to come up for air. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to experience this. It is such important work. I hope it will always be a part of my life.”

~Max Mc Donnell

Workshop participant who has a

genetic muscular disorder and

uses an electric wheelchair.


What is DanceAbility?

DanceAbility is a unique dance method founded in 1987 by Alito Alessi and Karen Nelson and has been under Alito’s leadership since 1989. DanceAbility uses improvisational dance to promote artistic expression and exploration between people with and without disabilities.

Through experiencing movement together, misconceptions and/or prejudices that able-bodied or disabled people might have about themselves and each other are uprooted. DanceAbility workshops provide a supportive atmosphere for attitudes to change, and for people to learn about the beauty and joy of communicating through movement.

The primary goals of DanceAbility are:

  • to provide opportunities for people with and without disabilities, and people from different cultures to come together for artistic exploration and community-building
  • to help explore and uproot misconceptions and prejudice between people with and without disabilities
  • to cultivate cultural and artistic diversity through performance, communication, and education
  • to encourage the evolution and performance of contemporary dance and new dance

DanceAbility cultivates a common ground for creative expression of all people. The material is drawn from the group present in a given situation and isolates no one. The method supports self-empowerment by offering ways that all individuals can participate fully in expressing their creative choices, including respecting one’s own limits. Following one’s own interest and desire, and applying that to the benefit of one’s community, is a basic DanceAbility teaching.


It looks like you don’t have flash player 6 installed. Click here to go to Adobe download page.

Photo Credits: Photos by Edis Gurcys, except #14 & #15 by Gil Grossi.

DanceAbility International
Joint Forces Dance Co.
576 Olive St. Suite 208
Eugene, OR 97401