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Grant propels unique dance group’s growth

Philippe Charbonneau’s wheelchair has never foiled his lifelong love of dance. Since being introduced to dance in elementary school, it’s been hishobby.


Philippe Charbonneau’s wheelchair has never foiled his lifelong love of dance.


Since being introduced to dance in elementary school, it’s been his hobby. But after leaving high school, the 25-year-old had difficulty finding programs to accommodate him.


Then, more than two years ago, artistic directors Renata Soutter and Shara Weaver introduced him to the Propeller Dance group.


“I never knew there was a dance for us before,” Charbonneau said. “I could do any move I want and I could enjoy every moment of it.”


Charbonneau is now a member of the mixed-abilities Propeller performance group — Ontario’s only all-inclusive dance group for people with and without disabilities.


Yesterday, the group announced a $100,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to develop new works, teach new classes and build more inclusive dance programs. The group accepted its grant from Ottawa-Vanier MPP Madeleine Meilleur and launched its propellerdance.com website at the National Arts Centre.


Renata Soutter, co-artistic director, said over the next two years they want to expand the program and make it more financially self-sufficient.


“We’d love to have a space. Right now we rent space and that’s always a challenge for us,” she said. “And we’d love to be invited to perform at contemporary dance festivals.”


The group started in 2001 as a program for people with disabilities at the school of dance, but it formed an independent organization to expand the integrated dance groups.
Propeller will be performing on June 3 and 4 at the NAC.


 
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