Touring the San Francisco Bay Area Researching Dance and Disability

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Brazlian chorographer Carolina Teixeira in San Jose, CA with Scott Rains

The  RollingRains.com blog on tourism, disability, and Universal Design began on January 1, 2004.  Over the  past 10 years posts on the "how and where" of travel appear alongside those on the "why" of travel. Not a typical travelogue or destination review site, this blog attempts to mix travel information of interest to people with disabilities and information on travelers with disabilities that is of interest to the travel industry. One of the privileges of having a longterm relationship with both the demand and supply sides of the Inclusive Tourism market around the world is the chance to visit or host trendsetters. This past week I hosted Brazilian mixed-ability dance pioneer Carolina Teixeira. Together we explored the dance and performance art culture of the San Francisco By Area for Carolina's doctoral work on dance and disability.

One of the first things I learned by looking at the San Francisco Bay Area's dance scene is how easy it is to take for granted how the depth of commitment to full inclusion here has created something unique with impact that radiates around the world. 

In Berkeley the birthplace of so many civil rights initiatives, the Ed Roberts Campus stands as a concrete example of Universal Design housing Disabled People's Organizations (DPO) such as the World Institute on Disability. Just over the Santa Cruz Mountains three different non-profits bring specialized beach accessibility across the US and down to Central America. Tapooz Travel brings travelers to the US from its base in Berkeley. Bay Area Disabled Sailors (BAADS) races in the America's Cup festivities. Meanwhile physically integrated dance pioneers like AXIS Dance Company train grade school, high school, and college students. Carolina and I had the privilege of observing several AXIS classes at Mills College in Oakland.  I was reminded of how it was AXIS founding members Judith Smith and Bonnie Lewkowicz who intiated the lawsuit against Hotels.com policy of not guaranteeing that reserved accessible rooms will actually be available when a guest arrives. On this whirlwind exploration of dance and disability we also attended a Dandelion Dance Theater rehearsal and performance featuring a wheelchair dancer from New Zealand (Rodney Bell) and from Puerto Rico (Cristina Carrasquillo).

Another thing I was reminded of by traveling with a high-energy performance artist like Carolina Teixeira is that almost any situation can be turned into a performance art piece - and with Carolina's combined sense of curiosity and humor often is. 


I'm not sure I had ever thought of even half the ways Carolina invented to interact with the painted wheelchair symbol in a disabled parking space where we stopped to do a photo shoot for a piece she is developing. I am certain I have never discussed a TSA pat down in terms of movement and dance before. That is an entertaining way to approach a tedious and invasive task!

Sending her back to her temporary home as a Resident Scholar at Oberlin College this morning leaves me realizing that sometimes "travel" can be as simple as unpeeling new layers and perceiving new aspects of what is right in front of you at home.

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