Friends of AXIS: an Interview with Chuck McAvoy

Chuck & Joel

We have such a wonderful community of supporters and volunteers at AXIS. Since we enjoy their company so much, we would like to introduce them to you too!

This month, Meet Chuck McAvoy.

AXIS: When did you get involved with AXIS?

Chuck McAvoy: It was around 1998 or 1999 when the World Institute on Disability (WID) was having a fund raising event known as The Ever Widening Circle.  I was invited to attend the event by Debbie Kaplan, who was involved with WID and would later become its executive director. The Ever Widening Circle was comprised of various performance artists, many of whom had disabilities.  There were comics, musicians and dancers.  AXIS Dance Company was performing that evening.  I was blown away by the performance by AXIS. It was the first time I had seen such a moving performance by dancers with and without disabilities.  I was so intrigued by AXIS that I made it a point to see as many performances as I could over the next several years.

A: What attracted you to the company? 
CM: Simply, integrated dance.  It is so compelling.  Then I found out about the educational program at schools and that made me a true believer in what AXIS is all about.

A: Why do you volunteer/donate? 
CM: I truly believe in the mission of AXIS and want to support the work in any way I can.

A: What motivates you to stay involved? 
CM: AXIS keeps getting better and better.  The choreographed work is “world class” as well as the whole organization.  It’s a bit of an ego boost to say I’m involved with AXIS Dance Company.

A: In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organization does?
CM: As much as I enjoy the choreographed work, I have to say the educational program is totally awesome.  When you read what children write about AXIS and the impact it has on them, that’s what really makes a difference.

A: What contribution or achievement are you most proud?
CM: Being able to coordinate getting a new “state of the art” wheelchair from TiLite Wheelchairs for dancer Joel Brown.

A: What do you hope the organization will achieve in the near future? In the long term?
CM: I hope AXIS will continue to grow artistically and achieve a higher level of financial stability.  With increased financial stability AXIS could grow the staff and expand the outreach of the company.

A: Do you have an anecdote about AXIS that really moved you?
CM: In the piece the beauty that was mine, through the middle, without stopping, choreographed by Joe Goode, there was a duet by Rodney Bell and Sonsheree Giles where Son rides on a horizontal wheelchair wheel with Rodney on his side.  She rotates around and around seemingly without effort.  It seems almost magical and even fun.  That to me was the essence of “integrated dance” and it’s beautiful.

A: What other organizations or causes do you support?
CM: I’ve been a longtime supporter of Disability Rights Advocates from Berkeley.  They have supported the ADA through selected litigation and have settled many landmark civil cases. I also support the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).  The do great work in SCI research and in support of disabled veterans.

A: Do you have a message to share?
CM: I would like to commend Judy Smith for her leadership and artistic vision.  Judy has brought AXIS to new heights and she is the rock that anchors AXIS.