Gliding smoothly across the stage in curving figure eights, the Momenta Dance Company exemplifies what it means to be thankful for one’s abilities. The group is a model for those across the nation learning to appreciate their strengths.
Momenta Dance Company will host a workshop called Everyone Can Dance Tuesday, Nov. 17 for all ages and abilities, followed by a virtual performance Wednesday, Nov. 18, presented by the Young Auditorium.
In their wheelchairs, Ginger Lane, Kris Lento and Ladonna Freidheim adapt how they would otherwise dance on their feet. Through the motion of dance, they interconnect themselves and their wheelchairs. The wheelchairs are a support for their bodies as they spin and roll with grace.
“It’s the idea that you move in a way that’s best for your body, as opposed to a specifically defined body part. It’s about how it feels good – not that you must do it this way even if it hurts,” said Freidheim, company treasurer, grant writer and dancer.
If Freidheim was forced to dance in a specific way, she wouldn’t learn. Instead, now she can expose herself to new chorographic prompts, styles and creative artwork.
“When we teach workshops, we include all disabilities, experiences and ages. It’s a creative movement workshop,” said Sarah Najera, company executive and artistic director.
Momenta’s workshops begin with icebreakers, a warm-up and a unique improvisational style of dance. The company suggests certain prompts, but it’s open to freestyle.
“It doesn’t matter what disability or skill you bring to the table. It’s acknowledging that you have particular strengths and weaknesses. It’s accepting, ‘here’s what I am and what I can celebrate,’” said Lane, company dancer and choreographer.
As a famous dancer, Lane found herself as an artist – not someone with a disability. She accepted herself with what she had and chose to celebrate her life.
Lento acquired his disability at age 19 from a work accident. He lost both of his legs above the knee, and then got into wheelchair sports. Lento too, celebrates the opportunities he has in life, even though he had lost part of his legs. His loss actually gave him strength through dance, as well as wheelchair basketball and track road racing.
“One of the goals in my life is to make people with or without disabilities understand and accept each other – to get along better and become comfortable,” said Lento.
Sometimes, when people encounter others with disabilities, they don’t know how to act or treat them. The company wants people to understand that they don’t want sympathy, but rather to be seen as equal.
Lane, Lento and Freidheim use what they have, and they just want people to understand them. They want people to give thanks and be grateful for what they have too.
For more information about participating in the Momenta Dance Company workshop and watching the performance visit the Young Auditorium online page.