Collaborative project between Open Hearts Art Center and ACDT at BeBe Theatre, June 8-10

Photo courtesy of Robbie Francis
Photo courtesy of Robbie Francis

Press release:

A new work of dance starring Open Hearts Art Center (OHAC) participants and Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater (ACDT) will take the stage of the BeBe Theatre on June 8, 9, and 10. OHAC and ACDT are in the process of conducting 30 weeks of one hour rehearsals to collaboratively develop and refine the concept and the performance.

People with developmental disabilities are traditionally segregated in schools and communities at a very young age, but new studies, mental health practices, and education formats are demonstrating that this is detrimental, not only to people with disabilities, but to society as a whole. “I think the biggest part of it for me is having this real joy in dancing. It’s just that they are enjoying the moment. We are in society where there is so much stuff bombarding us, but they walk in here and they’re not bringing in anything like that. They’re coming in here to dance and to have a good time dancing. That is their only agenda. It’s very freeing and we get influenced by that,” Giles Collard, ACDT Co-Director, reflected on his experience working with OHAC participants.

An added benefit of the collaboration is that ACDT artists learn to develop new ways to teach people with disabilities and to work more comfortably and collaboratively with our participants. “When we were invited to be part of this project I had very little experience working with this community, so I didn’t know where to begin. I started experimenting and discovered that they love everything, and I was learning from them. This is really an amazing project for me.” Susan Collard, ACDT Director and Founder commented.

In turn, OHAC participants benefit from the wealth of experience and artistry of ACDT staff, and learn to express and value themselves in new ways. “They’re nice, Susan and Giles…They taught me dance moves, and this is my first time to dance as a group,” remarked OHAC participant, Yannick.

OHAC is a community based nonprofit, providing opportunities for differently abled adults to express themselves through the arts. The program is committed to improving the quality of life for artists with disabilities and to recognizing these individuals and what they have to offer as a contribution. OHAC is a safe, loving community that is focused on supporting the individual needs and goals of people living with disabilities.

Performance times at the BeBe Theatre are 7 PM on June 8 and 9 and 3 PM on June 10. Admission is $10, and tickets are available at the door or for advance purchase at the box office by calling 828-254-2621.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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