“We are more than a dance company. We are a social movement for inclusion,” says Marisa Hamamoto, founder of Infinite Flow - An Inclusive Dance Company. Based in Los Angeles, California, this one-of-a-kind dance company is on a mission. They want to change the way the world perceives dance, showing dancers of all abilities how to dance together. Founded in 2015, it is the first dance company in the country to focus on wheelchair ballroom dance.
Infinite Flow would never have come to be if it wasn’t for Hamamoto experiencing a spinal cord injury herself. Looking at her today, one might not believe she was paralyzed from the neck down, but in 2006 she was seriously paralyzed, caused by a spinal cord infarction (a rare spinal cord disease). Hamamoto had to re-learn how to walk, and dance. Amazingly, after two months she was back walking.
At the time her injury, Hamamoto was studying dance in Japan at Keio University. Once she was back home from the hospital, she returned to school but faced rejection from some of her teachers. Fortunately, a few years after her injury Hamamoto found a new genre that inspired just like ballet once did – ballroom dance. “It brought a new vibration of joy and inspiration into my life of isolation and fear. Thanks to ballroom dancing, I healed from my trauma emotionally and made partner-dancing my career.” she says.
After embracing ballroom dance, she discovered wheelchair ballroom dance online, and noticed the sport wasn’t getting the attention it deserved in the US. It was then Hamamoto had a light bulb moment – she wanted to help introduce dance to people of all abilities knowing first-hand what is was like to be told no. And that is how Infinite Flow was born.
Since it’s inception, Infinite Flow has exploded. They offer multiple programs to people of all abilities. And just like any professional dance company, joining is by invitation/audition only. Dancers with and without disabilities are welcome. One of their dancers is Piotr Iwanicki, 33, a paraplegic originally from Warsaw, Poland, who now lives in LA.
"Marisa saw some of my videos on YouTube (I am a 12 year World Champion in Ballroom Wheelchair Dance Sport).” “I've been dancing with Infinite Flow since July 2017 as a guest dancer and coach." “I've learned that I should not close myself in the tiny little wheelchair World, but should be open to any form of dance and anyone who wants to dance."
Infinite Flow currently offers an amazing variety of dance opportunities. One of their most well-known programs is their #DanceforInclusion Flashmobs, where they invite people of all abilities to perform in a scheduled location. They also have a community adult and kids programs that’s open to people of all abilities, as well as teacher training, student internships and private instruction.
Hamamoto is grateful. Infinite Flow helped her develop a new voice as an artist, and so much more. “Running Infinite Flow has given me purpose in life,” she says. “And it’s given me an opportunity to give purpose to others.”
Learn more: www.infiniteflowdance.org