Paralympic Champion Teaches Ballroom Dancing to Participants in Wheelchairs

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A Michigan dance studio is holding ballroom dance classes for people with disabilities. 

“I often tell people that I may not dance with my feet but I dance with my heart,” Cheryl Angelelli, a former competitive swimmer and the co-founder of Dance Mobility, told

The ballroom dance class exclusively for those in wheelchairs is held once a month at the Fred Astaire Studio in Bloomfield. The hope is to introduce more with people with lower limb disabilities to the art

Janice Pegg, a participant who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her 30s, said the class has helped her move out of her comfort zone. 

"It’s a very social time," said Pegg. "I think that’s what you walk away with. I am active and those are the things, especially for people with disabilities, that I think are really important."

Evan Mountain, the owner of the Bloomfield studio, said each wheelchair dancer has an able-bodied partner. The studio is now training people to participate in the para dance sport. 

A few weeks ago, he and Angelelli trained 30 professional ballroom dance instructors from across the country in the basics of the dancing styles, wheelchair techniques and judging criteria.

"For us it doesn’t matter if someone has two left feet or they get around on wheels or prosthetic legs, we can teach them how to dance and they should be included and not excluded from getting out on the dance floor or a wedding or any kind of event and enjoying themselves,” Mountain said. 


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