Donna Russo and I, Tam Warner came together because we are both dealing with life altering conditions. The particulars are these: Donna was a professional dancer and I was a professional dancer, current choreographer. Donna has adult onset muscular dystrophy and I have coronary artery disease and a rare inflammatory disease. So, while Donna is in a slow decline, ultimately losing the use of her muscles, I too face an uncertain future. We decided to move forward while we both were able to and create the dance that I had started many years before when I seemed well and Donna was much stronger. The video “I Won’t Give Up” was the result. This video has garnered enormous unexpected attention. The video was noticed by the Abilities Expo, and they asked us to perform—which we have done to great success.
However, this is just the background… it is not the story. The story is that we have been able to inspire just by doing what our passion drove us to do. We had no expectation of this dance being anything other than a labor of love. What we found instead is a world of people with every kind of disability imaginable who share our passion. They too love to dance no matter the limitations. One of the women who danced with us at an Abilities Expo event is without arms or legs, yet she was dancing. A girl of about seven, who can only smile and move her fingers, danced with us. A young man with Down’s Syndrome, who knocked everyone out with his skill and musicality, danced with us. Able-bodied dancers danced with us. Dancing brings a kind of freedom—a sense of release and relief so profound that no matter the circumstances, the body wants to dance.
In the end, we were the ones who were inspired—inspired to keep dancing, to create more dances, and to embrace a world of diversity we had not known before. We are gathering our company of dancers both disabled and able-bodied… and we are taking flight.
– Tam Warner