Every new season of Tour de Force (and Milwaukee Ballet classes for everyone) they kick off the whole thing with a show called Ballet In A Box. As I’m writing this, I’m trying to recall how long the show is… and to be honest, I have no idea because it’s so enjoyable and it just seems to fly by!
There were a couple things new in this season’s show that I want to talk about. The first is that they involved several children (including Namine) in the show. To give you a little background, it was a little like a history lesson about King Louis XIV and how ballet has evolved over the years. Namine and the other children played townspeople, getting to dance alongside the professional dancers!
The other thing I want to point out is that the Milwaukee Ballet has become more inclusive as we’ve been a part of Tour de Force. Perhaps it’s just our perception, but it seems to us as though they’ve added more sensory-friendly performances — or perhaps increased awareness — and we love that.
Something else we couldn’t help but notice — because how could we not, since she was front and center throughout many of the afternoon’s performance — was that this year’s Ballet In A Box dancers included one who was using a wheelchair.
Namine has been taking wheelchair ballet for a few years now, but her classes and performances have been comprised only of her classmates, who also use wheelchairs. This performance was the perfect opportunity to show able-bodied and wheelchair-using dancers together, something which I don’t believe Namine has seen very much of.
In most of her accessible activities — like basketball and tennis — everyone (or nearly everyone) is using a wheelchair. It’s important for Namine to know there are options for someone like her, after all. But equally important is showing her that there are activities for everyone to participate in, regardless of ability. The youth bowling league she belongs to is a perfect example of the latter.