I believe this story needs to be told as it is a story of courage, resilience, and the power of the arts. It is also a keen reminder that the “disability” demographic is the one minority that any of us can find ourselves joining at any time.
The Borderless Dance Community has been invited to be one of, if not the first, dance group comprised of all dancers with disabilities to perform at Disney World. The group has been working on this opportunity for months and schedules are set, but recently our artistic director (Jennifer James) suffered from stroke like symptoms. This has led her to having difficulties speaking and walking. Yet, she had her husband bring her to one of the group’s performances and she has tried valiantly to continue to work with the group via Zoom. She is even making every effort to be with the group in Disney.
Yet, the group needed in-person rehearsals and someone to lead them at Disney.
This has led to the insertion of a 14- year old, who is a sister to one of the dancers. Meronica Forrester Kent has been studying dance nearly all of her life. She was already planning to go to Disney to watch her older sister perform, but suddenly she found herself in the role of interim artistic director.
As the group rehearsed this past week, I marveled at the elements that are transpiring:
1) We have a young artistic director who has found herself in the same category of dealing with disabilities as her dancers. Yet, she is showing the courage and leadership to remain positive around the group and be there as much as possible.
2) We have a 14-year old girl thrust into a leadership role to lead this group through their biggest performance with only 2-3 weeks of preparation. Yet, she is handling it with a strong sense of maturity and responsibility that is well beyond her age.
3) We have a group of dancers who find change quite difficult and yet they are rising to the occasion and adapting to their new circumstances.
None of this is ideal, but it is inspirational. I have never been more proud of a group than of all of these individuals who are meeting some unique challenges with grace and determination.
We may not be the best dancers to take the stage when we hit Disney, but I do believe our group will have the most reason to hold our heads high when we step off that stage.