Award-winning dancer and Paralympian, Cheryl Angelelli and her professional partner, Tamerlan Gadirov, recently visited Fort Wayne to help launch northeast Indiana’s first adaptive ballroom dancing program. Angelelli and Gadirov’s visit marked the first class of the adaptive ballroom dance program at Turnstone. Classes will continue on Tuesday evenings with instruction from Fred Astaire Dance Studios of Fort Wayne.

During their visit to Fort Wayne, Angelelli and Gadirov, also performed one of their award-winning routines, showing participants and attendees just how fun and advanced the art and sport of competitive wheelchair ballroom dancing can be. The duet’s choreography primarily consisted of different sequences of steps, spins and wheel turns.

Adaptive ballroom dance is an approved Paralympic sport and doesn’t differ much from standard ballroom dancing, aside from one partner using a wheelchair to move them across the dance floor while the couple coordinates rhythmic movements to music. With arms joined, the seated partner can push against the standing partner to gain leverage to move their chair. The standing partner takes the lead and can guide the direction of the chair.

Participants in the dancing class at Turnstone will be introduced to various styles of dance. As they refine their dance skills they could have the opportunity to join the competitive adaptive ballroom dancing field with the likes of Angelelli and Gadirov. Elite wheelchair ballroom dancers hone advanced skills and tricks such as lifting the partner and their chair into the air, or tilting the chair on its wheels.

Carmen Schlatter, Dance Director at Fred Astaire shared that their team has anticipated the launch of this program since receiving their certification training in July 2019. Schlatter said that the event ended up exceeding their expectations and they anticipate making dance an opportunity for every individual.

“We look forward to empowering people with disabilities alongside Turnstone by enriching their lives through the beauty of dance and everything that comes with it – exercise, touch, sociability, and, most importantly, fun,” Schlatter said.

The staff at Turnstone’s expectations were also exceeded with 12 dancers in attendance. Adaptive Ballroom Dancing will continue at Turnstone, and is open to every person of every ability. For more information on how you can dance with Turnstone, call 260.483.2100.

The Waynedale News Staff
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