This year marks the Tenth Anniversary of the Madison Cortland ARC Wind Dancers, an interpretive dance group. On Sunday, November, 16, the dancers gathered for an anniversary party at St. Paul’s Church in Oneida.
The Wind Dancers began in 1998, as an inclusive dance troupe for young women with and without disabilities, and was a coordinated effort by Michelle Collins and Paulette Pierce.
"Over the past ten years, the Wind Dancers have inspired me to realize that nothing is impossible. Their positive attitudes, dedication and fantastic abilities are to be commended. They have not only brightened my life, but also the lives of the hundreds of people who have seen them dance," says Michelle Collins, who serves as the Wind Dancer’s choreographer.
The group averages between 8 and 12 young women. It has become a truly unique and rewarding experience for everyone involved. More importantly, the program continues to meet its initial goals of building self-esteem in all who participate. This talented group of dancers communicates to their audiences the goals of inclusion, self-confidence, and enduring friendship through dance.
They came up with their name, “Wind Dancers”, because of the inspirational song by Vanessa Williams, “Colors of the Wind” from the movie Pocahontas. Since their first performance that song has become their signature piece, and has been performed numerous times over a decade.
The song was selected because it sends a clear message that acceptance and diversity are to be celebrated. On Sunday, the Wind Dancers performed the signature piece together with former Wind Dancers who joined in the celebration.
Through the years, the group has choreographed close to 30 different dance routines that they showcase at a variety of events. They have performed at concerts, conventions, festivals and other events, and in 2007 the Wind Dancers were inducted into the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs.
“It’s truly inspiring to witness the talent and commitment the Wind Dancers display. Over the past decade, they have created lasting memories and are part of the family-oriented traditions we have at Madison Cortland ARC,” says Ray Lewandowski, Executive Director.
Madison Cortland ARC provides leadership in the field of disabilities, supporting people in every manner possible, and developing the necessary human and financial resources to allow all members of our community to achieve their potential. Madison Cortland ARC is the most experienced agency in helping people with developmental disabilities, offering services for 40 years in Madison County and 42 years in Cortland County. The chapter is one of 57 chapters statewide governed by NYSARC, Inc. and serves over 1,000 people in both counties.