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Teen in wheelchair gets chance to dance onstage

Posted at 5:36 PM, Apr 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-11 21:23:18-04

She struggles to talk and walk, but - her love of dance is not confined to the wheelchair she sits in. 

15-year-old Madera is suffering from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, which makes it difficult for her to communicate through words. But, body language can be a very powerful thing. 

Her twirls happen on tires, instead of toes. Her movements are guided along by her fellow dancers. 

Her smile though - all her own. 

Choreographer Joey Rodgers owns Dancing in the Streets AZ - a studio with his wife. 

"It's not for kids with a disability," Rodgers explained. "Even though I'm kinda focusing on that right now, but it's for all children... all children, you know, should have that opportunity to do some kind of form of dance."
 
He said, he found Madera's mother, Roxanne Orona, through Facebook and felt the urge to connect. 
 
"He reached out to me and said he was interested in premiering her in his ballot coming up in June," Orona said. "And I was like, 'Absolutely - that would be amazing!'"
 
The other little ballot dancers are learning about how their differences are what make them all unique. 
 
"They were a little hesitant at first - I think because they weren't sure what to expect," Orona explained. "But, little by little - they started warming up to her and I could totally see that they didn't even really see the difference so much anymore."
 
The mirrors in the studio allow Medera to see herself in a way she's never been seen before - as a beautiful ballerina who is treated just like everyone else.
 
"She looks at herself," Orona said. "And kind of - and I don't know if she really knows that's her or not, but just the expression on her face was like a look of 'Oh wow!'"
 
For Rodgers, he said - it's a challenge he is proud to take on and show the families and students at the studio. 
 
"They're gonna see how their kids are going to learn from this child - this child and probably her family is going to learn from all of us," Rodgers said. "So, it's just like one big community - it's a community thing."
 
A community focusing on footwork, instead of a disability.
 
Dancing in the Streets AZ is also hosting a fundraiser to help pay for the upcoming production on Sunday, May 1st. Click HERE for more information.
 
If you want to attend the performance, that will happen on June 5th at the Temple of Music and Art. 
 
Also, Madera's family has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for a new vehicle - one that can help lift her and her wheelchair into it more easily for her family.