Film run-time: 3 minutes | Starring Sonja Veg, Tony Marrelli, Nancy Clarke
Directed by Gayle Ye, Produced by Michelle Koerssen, Edited by Sydney Cowper
“On Wednesdays We Dance“, a 2016 short film by Gayle Ye, is a focused dialogue with members of a community who are typically cast into particular frames of mind, relegated to unwitting assumptions of capability. These individuals, wheelchair users who wish to reclaim and transcend their disability, are all part of Wheel Dance, an initiative that empowers through therapeutic dance sessions.
On the most basic level, the choice to participate in the program’s assembly is a reception to physical touch; there is comfort in the tactility of touch, and it is by extension a mode of human connection, aspects of which can be physically and psychologically blocked by imposing apparatus. By enabling a way to meaningfully relate to one another, people like Tony and Sonja are able to lose their stigma and enjoy each other’s company more.
As a mean to a more realized self, such dancing sessions are as crucial to self-expression as one may find in sartorial choices. Not only does dancing inherently strengthen health, it is also as great a marker of a person’s interior life as any other material forms. One’s style of dance can be evocative of personalities not readily apparent otherwise, and a smooth routine’s absolute need for a convergence of tool with body enables a fluid mastering of the wheelchair, a naturalization that encourages graceful incorporation.
At its most sublime, communities such as Wheel Dance allows for a deep spiritual understanding and morale raising—like Steve or Louise, married people who go with their spouses, they are empowered by the act’s tacit bonding, inspired to share more of themselves than they might have permitted in another setting. In a still greater scope, the active nature of dancing sheds preconceived notions of what it means to be disabled, and becomes representative of the diverse possibilities open to individuals with impairments: a widening of social initiation, for all those involved.