Abilities Dance Boston: Valuing Intersectional Disability Rights and Creative Movement

New Independent Sector member Abilities Dance Boston uses dance as a tool for intersectional disability rights in the greater Boston area and beyond. The organization’s work disrupts antiquated ableist beliefs and disseminates the value of intersectional disability rights through dance – encouraging the nonprofit sector and communities, in general, to think of how we can make their spaces more accessible and serve more disabled people in all aspects.

Photo by Bill Parsons/Maximal Image for Abilities Dance Boston

The nonprofit engages with community partners to further advance its mission, facilitating conversations by teaching inclusive practices in spaces to bring back to communities to spread awareness, understanding, and progress.

We connected with Ellice Patterson, dancer and Executive Director of Abilities Dance Boston, who also was a 2021 Upswell Fellow through the support of the Barr Foundation, which also is an Independent Sector member.

IS: As an Independent Sector community member, what are you looking forward to that will help your organization better achieve your mission and serve your community?

EP: I am looking forward to connecting with other nonprofits to mutually benefit from how others can learn more of intersectional disability justice in nonprofits and how we can better learn from more established nonprofits as we build sustainability.

IS: What are some of your organization’s core or special programs that support people and help make your community and the nonprofit sector stronger?

EP: Our professional performing company consists of paid adult artists with diverse identities within and outside of the disabled community. Our community engagement consists of movement workshops and/or lectures centering intersectionality, disability culture, and more for intergenerational multicultural audiences. By increasing more access in various communities, we are making our sector and overall community stronger when we all have equity.

Photo by Bill Parsons/Maximal Image for Abilities Dance Boston

IS: How does your work intersect with Independent Sector’s mission and our member organizations? 

EP: We are always looking to collaborate and learn more from other organizations so we can be in a mutual space of knowledge and resource building to make our sector thrive.

IS: Independent Sector focuses on collaborating with individuals and the nonprofit sector to create a healthier sector and racially equitable and just nation. Tell us about aspects of your work that help support or advance these objectives.

EP: Our whole organization was founded on the basis of intersectional disability rights. It means that without thinking of disability work within racial equity work (vice versa and for all forms of social justice work), there can be no true liberation.

Our work is meant to dismantle for all – not just some.

Learn more about Abilities Dance Boston. The top photo is courtesy of the nonprofit organization. Learn about other Independent Sector members and becoming a member.


Types: Blog
Global Topics: Arts, Culture, and Humanities, ChangeWorks, Civil Society, Community, Dignity, Identity, IS Member, Purpose, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Voice
Focus Areas: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion