Wheelchair dance group in Victoria perform syrtaki with their hands and heart

·

By Mary Synanidis

In a stroke of serendipity, Nola Radiotis, this year’s Darebin Council Citizen of the Year and CALD Elder Community of the Year, found herself crossing paths with Rocca Salcedo, the dynamic force between Dance and Roll, the wheelchair dance group that earned the title of Darebin City Council’s Community Group of the Year.

Fuelled by their shared passion for dance, both women left the awards ceremony determined to present Greek dancing to the Dance and Roll ensemble.

The wheelchair dance group earned the title of Darebin City Council’s Community Group of the Year.

Nola wasted no time in curating a transformative dance program to transport the wheelchair dancers on a cultural journey through Greece.

“I wanted to give them a taste of diverse dance styles from all around Greece,” she said, putting together a dance workout which incorporated the Zorba dance, syrtaki, zeibekiko, tsifteteli and a whole host of other styles with enlightening descriptions of the dances’ rich history between sets.

The Darebin Arts Centre burst into life as Dance and Roll took centre stage, wheeling through Greek dances. Following the performance, the troupe gathered to savour Nola’s delectable spanakopita and loukoumades. With none having travelled to Greece, they wondered what a trip would be like and what wheelchair-friendly options there would be.

Dancers

“I’ve never been to Greece, but I’ve heard about their celebrations with plenty of dancing,” Karen said, adding she had enjoyed learning about the dances.

“Learning new dance styles like flamenco, tango, Bollywood with different teachers each time, has been incredibly enjoyable. Not only do I enjoy learning the dances, but I also find out more about the history of the places they come from and the people who dance them.”

Wheelchair dancers from around Melbourne come to the weekly Thursday sessions

The dancers present agreed that their favourites of the evening were the Zorba and syrtaki due to the euphoric music and fantastic workout.

Wheelchair dancers from around Melbourne come to the weekly Thursday sessions and even more from around Australia – sometimes even overseas – join in to the online workshops.

Karen said: “There aren’t many opportunities available. Dance and Roll is the only one of its kind in Melbourne.”

“I wanted to establish a space where people with disabilities could connect, make friends and find joy through movement”

Sue, who has arthritis and spina bifida, eagerly seized the opportunity to join the group when she found out about it and has found it to be a valuable source of connection and friendship. The bond formed among the dancers extends beyond the dance classes, with many of them regularly meeting outside of scheduled sessions.

Rocca, a wheelchair user hailing from Colombia, expressed her original motivation for creating this extraordinary space in what has been a journey fraught with resilience. The Colombian graduate of International Law at the University of Melbourne had planned to return to Columbia following her studies, but instead remained hospitalised for a year following a car accident that left her in a wheelchair.

“After my car accident in 2001, dancing became a distant dream. But I soon realised that dance holds immense social and therapeutic potential. I wanted to establish a space where people with disabilities could connect, make friends and find joy through movement,” she said.

The dancers present agreed that their favourites of the evening were the Zorba and syrtaki

Nola, inspired by her meeting with Rocca, hopes to continue to offer Greek dancing to the troupe and plans to introduce the participation of ‘Anemones’ dancers to interact with the wheelchair dancers. As with the first session, the lesson will culminate in a joyous celebration, complete with Greek treats.

Nola, inspired by her meeting with Rocca, hopes to continue to offer Greek dancing to the troupe

She is eager to make the experience as immersive and creative as possible to empower the dancers as they embrace the rhythm of life through Greek dances.

Dance and Roll classes take place on Zoom on Mondays from 5-6pm and at Darebin Arts Centre every Thursday from 6-7pm. For more information, call Rocca on 0408 523 742.

Advertisement

Share:

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH TGH

By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Advertisement

Latest News

Mykonos shop owner reflects on Australia, Greece and crystals

Greek Australian, Apostolos Triantafyllou, 56, has been living in Mykonos for over 30 years now, and running his jewellery store 'Amethyst'.

Niki Louca shares her recipe for chicken pie with mushrooms

Niki Louca from My Greek Kitchen shares her favourite recipe for kotopita with manitaria (chicken pie with mushrooms) with The Greek Herald.

Dr Trakakis to give lecture in Melbourne on the late poet Tasos Leivaditis

Dr Nick Trakakis will give a seminar on Thursday, May 30 at the Greek Centre in Melbourne on the late poet Tasos Leivaditis.

Greek Australian artist VASSY receives Billions List award

Greek Australian-bred, singer, songwriter and dance music producer VASSY, has been honoured with the Billions List Award by APRA AMCOS.

Themis Chryssidis to reinvent his acclaimed Adelaide restaurant

Themis Chryssidis is transforming his acclaimed city restaurant, eleven, with a new menu and more affordable prices.

You May Also Like

Official reception held for Greek Independence Day at NSW Parliament

The Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Yannis Mallikourtis, held an official reception on Monday to mark Greek Independence Day.

Greece has ‘formally’ entered its second wave of the coronavirus pandemic

Greece is “formally”entered a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s top infectious disease experts has told The Guardian.

Investigation into Tempi train tragedy: ND and SYRIZA clash over responsibility

Greece's political landscape is ablaze with debate & accusations following the Tempi train crash, the nation's deadliest rail incident.