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DisArt closing performance to celebrate strides, continue conversation

The event at Wealthy Theatre will feature a performance directed by Arts in Motion Studio, which will include over a hundred Disabled performers, ACTion Drummers, paper mache birds, dancers and a choir.
Dancers perform at the Arts in Motion Fourth Annual Basghetti dinner.

Dancers perform at the Arts in Motion Fourth Annual Basghetti dinner. /Courtesy of Allied Productions

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Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m.

Wealthy Theatre

1130 Wealthy St SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49506

A mixer and reception will follow the performance.

A band plays at an Arts in Motion fundraiser.

A band plays at an Arts in Motion fundraiser. /Courtesy of Allied Productions

Dancers perform choreography at a previous fundraiser.

Dancers perform choreography at a previous fundraiser. /Courtesy of Allied Productions

The inaugural DisArt Festival, a multi-venue disability arts festival, is winding down. However, there are still opportunities to engage with this event, including the closing ceremony featuring Dis-Stories at Wealthy Theatre on Saturday, April 25.

Dis-Stories is a performance directed by Arts in Motion Studio exploring disability through dance, music and visual arts. It will be the culminating experience of DisArt, and a showcase of the talents of a community passionate about shared artistic experience.

"It is not so much about disability but about concepts of art and stories of how we move through the world," says Delight Lester, director of Arts in Motion Studios.

The performance will include over 100 Disabled performers, ACTion Drummers, paper mache birds, dancers and a choir.

"All of it is to help us reform our understanding of disability," says Chris Smit, director of DisArt. "We define disability in so many negative ways, and what that event is all about is expelling that negative definition and bringing out an exciting and empowering definition of disability, one that will benefit the entire city."

Arts in Motion is an arts organization that offers year-round, in-depth, programs six days a week. These programs are adapted to the needs of the individual regardless of the ability to pay, and do not turn anyone away. The organization works to find ways to bring the arts to groups that are underserved and lack a means of access to the arts.

There were over 20,000 Disabled people registered in Grand Rapids in 2010, and this number has undoubtedly grown since. Mayor Heartwell has declared this year the Year of Art + Access, an initiative encouraging Grand Rapids to become a more welcoming city to all people.

"If we walk away understanding that there is a need to bring art and artists together on equal engaging terms, we have a beginning," Lester says.

Over 400 people were involved in making DisArt a reality, in all of the behind-the-scenes roles. After the performance, the closing event will feature a mixer. This will allow Disabled and able-bodied people to talk and exist in the same space, and make time for those behind DisArt to celebrate their achievements.

"We're going to watch the performance, and then we're just gonna hang out and celebrate what an amazing couple of weeks we've had," Smit says, "as a way to, not say goodbye to this, because of course this will be something that continues. The conversation about disability and access will continue; DisArt will continue."

Dis-Stories and the DisArt closing reception will be on Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Wealthy Street Theatre.

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