On Tuesday evening, about 15 new high school graduates with various developmental and intellectual disabilities gathered in an echoey elementary school auditorium in Oakland for an event called Ramping Up Independence. For many, it was the first time meeting staff from the organizations that would help them transition out of special education classes and into…

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Axis dancers practicing for an upcoming show.

Oakland is home to many diverse dance companies that travel the world performing unique choreography for all to see, but one group stands out from the rest: AXIS. Nearing their 30th anniversary, this physically-integrated repertory company has both disabled and non-disabled dancers. With their performing season rapidly approaching, AXIS welcomes a new company member to the dance floor.…

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AXIS, Sonsherée Giles, Rodney Bell

AXIS Dance Company’s dancers are exceptional in more ways than most performers. Four of the company’s seven members, including artistic director Judith Smith, have physical disabilities and dance in wheelchairs. Since AXIS’s founding in 1987, its dancers have been exploding conventional notions of contemporary dance.

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