Introducing Carina Ho, AXIS Dance Company Apprentice

From the desk of Artistic Director Judith Smith:

I created our AXIS Immersion Apprenticeship program for dancers with disabilities because opportunities for them to be exposed to dance, to train with an established physically integrated dance company and to pursue a career in dance are very few and far between. It’s still virtually impossible for most young disabled dancers to attend typical dance studios and university programs the way non-disabled dancers do. Attitudes about disability along with a lack of knowledge about programmatic accessibility still prevail.

AXIS’ approach will be also be a step toward addressing the decades-long crisis the field of physically integrated dance has faced because there are not enough trained disabled dancers to meet the demand. Apprentices are on the same schedule as our dancers and will attend all company classes, rehearsals, master classes and workshops and even tour. Our apprenticeship is scheduled to coincide with our Summer Intensive, a week-long course attended by dancers from all over the world that culminates in a showing of choreographed work created during the week. It’s definitely an immersion and we’re thrilled to have support from Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, CA Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

Carina Ho speaks on her new apprenticeship:

I was so excited when Judy Smith called me out of the blue to offer me an apprenticeship with AXIS Dance Company. In 2014 at the age of 26 I sustained a spinal cord injury that landed me in a wheelchair. The prognosis of paralysis from the chest down was difficult enough, but as a former dancer the thought of never dancing again was even more devastating. It has been a year and a half since my injury and I am still mastering how to move my new body. I'm hoping this apprenticeship will push me to develop new technique and strength, however I am mostly looking forward to feeling the sense of freedom that dance used to give me as an able-bodied person. 

Today marks my third day with the company and I have already learned so much from my fellow dancers. This week alone we have visited three schools around the Bay and have been on stage in front of hundreds of students. It has been a powerful experience to share our art and stories with young people, and I believe our message will positively shape their views towards dance and disability. I am also a musician and my recent dance journey has inspired a lot of creativity in my personal work. My great hope is that I will take the stage both as a dancer and a musical artist in the near future.