Middlebury

"Accessibility Awareness Week" Nov. 1-6 to offer films, dance performance, personal stories, wheel-a-thon, and more

October 20, 2004

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Middlebury College will host its third annual "Accessibility Awareness Week" Nov. 1-6, offering films, dance events, personal stories, a wheel-a-thon and more.  One of the week's highlights will be a combined performance by two dance groups-Light Motion and the Bill Evans Dance Company.  Light Motion is a group of disabled and nondisabled dancers who have performed wheelchair dance around the world.  Five-time Paralympic gold medal winner Chris Waddell will speak, and teams of Middlebury College students will use wheelchairs as they complete a series of tasks in a wheel-a-thon competition in the College's Kenyon Arena.  All events are free and open to the public with the exception of the dance performance-tickets to this event are $5 general admLight Motionission. 

Middlebury College senior Kate Stamper single-handedly organized the week's activities.  Stamper became involved with the first "Accessibility Awareness Week" when she took Assistant Professor of Biology David Parfitt's seminar "Neural Disorders: Individuals, Family and Society" as a sophomore.  Students in the class, which included a service-learning component, organized the accessibility awareness activities as part of their coursework. 

The next summer, Stamper saw Light Motion perform in Seattle, where the dance group is based.  "?Accessibility Awareness Week' began three years ago with students experiencing first-hand the issues of accessibility on the Middlebury campus.  After seeing Light Motion perform, I wanted to share the group's work with the College and the community.  Including Light Motion broadens the scope of 'Accessibility Week' so that students and local residents are exposed to the incredible accomplishments of individuals with disabilities.  It's important to raise awareness of the possibilities rather than of the limitations of life in a wheelchair," said Stamper.

"Accessibility Awareness Week" will kick off on Monday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. with an event titled "Wheels in Action: Constructing the Future Path" in the Juice Bar area of the Grille in the McCullough Student Center.  According to Stamper, this event is meant to raise awareness of Middlebury College's efforts to be accessible.  On view will be an exhibition of previous as well as future College construction projects and renovations, including the new Atwater buildings, the new library, Forest Hall ramp, and Carr Hall.  Speakers include Mark Gleason, Middlebury College project manager for facilities management and planning, and Jim Ross, a former consultant to Middlebury College on matters related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Ross also specializes in renovating houses for individuals with accessibility needs.  Student group Sara Stranovsky and the Blues Band will perform as well.

"Accessibility Week" will also feature several films, including "Rolling" on Tuesday, Nov. 2, a documentary that portrays the daily lives of several individuals from the perspective of their wheelchairs, giving the viewer a unique sense of life through their eyes as they struggle to maintain independence with dignity.  Another film, "No Barriers: The Mark Wellman Story," documents paraplegic Mark Wellman's dramatic ascents of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.  The showing of "No Barriers" will take place Wednesday, Nov. 3.

Speakers from both the College and the community will take part in a panel discussion and luncheon on Nov. 3 titled "Personal Stories of Family and Society." Panelists will discuss the impact accessibility issues have had in their own lives.  Waddell will also share his personal story when he gives a lecture titled "Chris Waddell's Wheels in Action" on Friday, Nov. 5.  Waddell, a 1991 graduate of Middlebury College, was a competitive skier with aspirations for the United States Ski Team when a skiing accident left him completely paralyzed from the waist down in 1988.  Three years later, he was the favored mono skier on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team and featured in Outside magazine, the first disabled athlete so honored.  During the 1998 Paralympic games in Nagano, he won one gold, two silver, and one bronze medal.  Named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 1998, Waddell also acts, models and owns a company that operates ski camps for people with disabilities. 

At the wheel-a-thon on Saturday, Nov. 6, five teams of Middlebury College students will encounter the issue of accessibility directly as they try-in wheelchairs-to complete a series of basic tasks, such as entering the building, checking e-mail, and drinking from a water fountain, as part of an obstacle course in the College's Kenyon Arena.  Comprised of students from each of Middlebury's five residential commons, the teams will finish in Fletcher Field House, where an awards event will take place with Waddell as master of ceremonies.

Dance will be one of the week's highlights.  On Thursday, Nov. 4, Charlene Curtiss, director of Light Motion and a world-renowned wheelchair dancer, will offer a contemporary dance master class where observers are welcome.  The following day, Curtiss will give a public lecture, titled "Dancing on Wheels," that describes the development of her company and her pioneering techniques in modern dance.  Established in 1988, Light Motion is one of the first integrated dance companies in the world.

On Saturday, Nov. 6, dancer and choreographer Bill Evans will teach a contemporary dance master class, where observers will also be welcome.  The artistic director of the Bill Evans Dance Company, founded in 1975, and director of the Bill Evans Summer Institute of Dance, founded in 1976, he is a visiting professor and artist in residence in the dance department of the State University of New York at Brockport, where his dance company is based.  Evans has also received numerous choreographic fellowships from such organizations as the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Later the same day, both Light Motion, a physically integrated duo, and the Bill Evans Dance Company, also a duo, will perform together, presenting an evening of contemporary work.  This collaborative concert will feature the amazing front-end chair control technique developed by Curtiss and a variety of highly expressive solos, duets and trios created by Curtiss, Joanne Petroff of Light Motion and Evans, and performed by Curtiss, Petroff, Evans and Don Halquist of Bill Evans Dance. 

To follow are events calendar listings:

"Accessibility Awareness Week," Nov. 1-6, Middlebury College

Monday, Nov. 1

7:30 p.m.  Kickoff Event: "Wheels in Action: Constructing the Future Path"

Location: Grille Juice Bar area, McCullough Student Center, Old Chapel Road off South Main Street (Route 30)

To raise awareness about accessibility on the Middlebury College campus, an exhibition of previous as well as future construction projects and renovations will be presented.  A blank poster will be provided as a "Discussion Board" for Middlebury students, faculty and staff to write down any comments, thoughts or questions regarding accessibility issues on the Middlebury campus as well as in the community.  Speakers include Mark Gleason, Middlebury College project manager for facilities management and planning, and Jim Ross, a former Americans with Disabilities Act consultant to Middlebury College who specializes in renovating houses for individuals with accessibility needs.  Entertainment will be provided by the student group Sara Stranovsky and the Blues Band.

 

Tuesday, Nov. 2

7:30 p.m.  Film: "Rolling"

Location: Room 219, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

The term "point of view" takes on a multi-layered meaning in "Rolling" (2001), a documentary by Gretchen Berland and Mike Majoros, in collaboration with Vicki Elman, Ernie Wallengren, and Galen Buckwalter.  Detailing their daily lives from the perspective of their wheelchairs, these individuals give the viewer a unique sense of life through their eyes as they struggle to maintain independence with dignity.

 

Wednesday, Nov. 3

12:30 p.m. Panel Luncheon: "Personal Stories of Family and Society"

Location: Room 220, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Awareness of accessibility also raises issues pertaining to individuals, their family and

the surrounding community.  In a panel discussion, Vergennes resident Rose Hoyt, Middlebury College Professor of History Paul Monod, Middlebury College Administrative Program Coordinator Ellen McKay, and Weybridge resident Jay Leshinsky will discuss their own personal stories and the impact accessibility issues have had in their lives.  Lunch will be provided.

7:30 p.m.  Film: "No Barriers: The Mark Wellman Story"

Location: Room 220, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

This video documents paraplegic Mark Wellman's dramatic ascents of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.  Joining his quest for challenge and overcoming obstacles is a small crew of disabled athletes who show incredible feats of strength and skill as they kayak, ski and much more. Co-produced with renowned filmmaker and mountaineer, Eric Perlman, this video is exciting, action-packed, and highly motivational. 

 

Thursday, Nov. 4

4:30 p.m.  Contemporary Dance Master Class with Charlene Curtiss

Location: Dance Studio, Middlebury College Center for the Arts, South Main Street (Route 30)

Charlene Curtiss, director of Light Motion and a world-renowned wheelchair dancer, has performed and produced movement workshops and residencies for students of all ages and abilities both nationally and internationally for more than 10 years.  Her original techniques of front-end chair control have redefined dance parameters and choreographic terminology of wheelchair movement work.  Observers welcome.

 

7:30 p.m.  Film: "Without Barriers or Borders"

Location: Room 216, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

"Without Barriers or Borders" provides a glimpse of how developments in technology and related policies are impacting disabled people in other countries.  Features include a group of Russian high school students with disabilities participating in challenging recreation activities at an exchange camp in the U.S., Japanese disability activists confronting their inaccessible transport systems, and the Cambodian Disabled People's Organization struggling to produce their own technical aids in a country decimated by war and the massive use of landmines.

 

Friday, Nov. 5

12:30 p.m. Light Motion Lecture and Luncheon: "Dancing On Wheels"

Location:  Dance Theatre, Middlebury College Center for the Arts, South Main Street (Route 30)

Director of Light Motion Charlene Curtiss will give a public lecture describing the development of her company and her pioneering techniques in modern dance as a wheelchair dancer.  Lunch will be provided.

 

7:30 p.m.   Dessert and Lecture: "Chris Waddell's Wheels in Action"

Location: Great Hall, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Waddell, a 1991 Middlebury graduate, was a competitive skier with aspirations for the U.S. Ski Team when a skiing accident left him completely paralyzed from the waist down in 1988.  Three years later, he was the favored mono skier on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team and featured in Outside magazine, the first disabled athlete so honored.  He is a five-time Paralympic gold medal winner.  Named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 1998, he also acts, models and owns a company that operates ski camps for people with disabilities.  Dessert will be provided.

 

Saturday, Nov. 6

9 a.m.  Contemporary Dance Master Class with Bill Evans

Location:  Dance Studio, Middlebury College Center for the Arts, South Main Street (Route 30)

Choreographer and dancer Bill Evans is a visiting professor and artist in residence in the dance department of the State University of New York at Brockport.  The recipient of numerous choreographic fellowships and awards, he is also the artistic director of the Bill Evans Dance Company and the director of the Bill Evans Summer Institute of Dance.  Observers welcome.

 

1 p.m.  Wheel-A-Thon

Location: Kenyon Arena and Fletcher Field House, South Main Street (Route 30)

What does it mean to be accessible?  Five teams of Middlebury College students will discover the answer to this question as they try to complete a series of tasks while maneuvering through Kenyon Arena in wheelchairs.  Comprised of students from each of Middlebury's five residential commons, the teams will finish with an awards ceremony conducted by Master of Ceremonies Chris Waddell, a 1991 Middlebury graduate and a five-time Paralympic gold medal winner.  Observers welcome.

 

8 p.m. Light Motion and Bill Evans Dance Company Performance

Location: Dance Studio, Middlebury College Center for the Arts, South Main Street (Route 30)

Tickets are $5 general admission.

Light Motion and Bill Evans Dance present an evening of contemporary work. Light Motion is a physically integrated dance duo from Seattle, and Bill Evans Dance is a duo based in Brockport, New York. This collaborative concert features the amazing front-end chair control technique developed by Charlene Curtiss, director of Light Motion and an internationally recognized wheelchair dancer, and a variety of highly expressive solos, duets and trios created by Curtiss, Joanne Petroff of Light Motion, and acclaimed choreographer Bill Evans, and performed by Curtiss, Petroff, Evans and Don Halquist of Bill Evans Dance. 

All events are free and open to the public with the exception of the dance performance-tickets to this event are $5 general admission.  Dance tickets are available from the Middlebury College Box Office at 802-443-6433 or http://www.middlebury.edu/arts/. For more information about "Accessibility Awareness Week," contact student organizer Kate Stamper at 802-443-7241 or kstamper@middlebury.edu.

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