Meet our friend and one of LBFE Boston’s Creative Connections instructor, Ellice…a disabled teacher, dancer, director, activist, and founder of Abilities Dance Boston whose mission is to disrupt antiquated ableist beliefs and disseminate the value of inclusion through dance.
Originally from Mississippi, Ellice has been in Boston for the past 11 years and has been dancing on and off since she was just four years old. After becoming disabled, Ellice left dance for a while and returned to relearn technique and pedagogy based on where her body was at that point in time.
And that’s exactly what Ellice applies at LBFE Boston’s Creative Connections class with a group of older adults, currently at Frederick Douglass apartments in Roxbury, each week. As their instructor, Ellice meets the participants where they are, constantly assessing needs, editing to meet with the body and mind, and expanding moment to moment as needed. For older adults, this includes increasing flexibility, stretching, and seated and standing movement.
The benefits of dance, movement, and building special relationships with one another are real. Ellice says that one class member admitted that while former instructors had worked for her in the past, Ellice’s format with modifications, stretches, and more is the most effective right now…and that participant has become Ellice’s biggest Creative Connections cheerleader. ‘The joy, excitement and being in a safe space together, moving, having fun, where everyone learns from each other’ is especially inspiring to Ellice.
Her best advice to older AND younger adults? ‘Don’t hesitate to bend the rules to make something work for both your mind and body.’ Ellice adds, ‘I believe in reciprocal learning. In every place I enter, the best teacher is the students. The best way to be accessible and inclusive is to understand and embrace others…from musical choices to listening to folks’ journeys, and simply having conversations with them.’