Dance & Disability Day 2017

October 14, 2017

Recognizing the need to improve accessibility in both dance & education, Luna offers a full day of inquiry with a Dance & Disability Workshop paired with our annual free Dance & Disability Discourse & Panel. Stretch your inclusive teaching practices!

Thanks to all who joined us for Dance & Disability Day. Couldn’t make it? Please check out our follow-up page with resources & upcoming discussions on inclusion & equity.

Guest Workshop: Pamela Wolfberg & Suzanna Curtis, 12-3pm
Autism, Play & Socialization with Peers $110
to be rescheduled, please stay tuned

Luna is honored to welcome world leader in autism research & innovator of the Integrated Play Groups®, Dr. Pamela Wolfberg for a rare introductory training.

Accessing the joy and benefits of inclusive play poses unique challenges for children on the autism spectrum. This half-day workshop introduces the Integrated Play Groups® (IPG) model, an evidence-based practice for guiding children on the autism spectrum to participate with neuro-typical peers in mutually engaging social and imaginary play experiences. Fostering opportunities for socialization and creative expression in the culture of play with peers will be highlighted. Considering that what supports a child with autism supports all children, this workshop is for all educators hoping to improve their inclusive practices. No prerequisite. 

Pamela’s work not only speaks to the power of imagination and play, but importantly and unrelentingly speaks up for children with autism having the right to access this cornerstone of child development.  Her work says “yes, these children BELONG with all children…and everyone is better for it.”

- Rebecca Prather, Speech-Language Pathologist

Read about how Luna has adapted Pamela’s IPG work into creative dance classes in this article by Julia Marx.  Marx was one of Luna’s pioneer teachers and ignited our investigation into inclusion classes for children on the spectrum. Trainings with Pamela have helped us take Marx’s work even further.


Discourse & Panel, 3-5pm free
on as scheduled

Each year Luna invites a panel of artists, educators, researchers and activists to lead a conversation about disability awareness, inclusive practices, accessibility and equity in dance and education.


Our invited guest experts include (more to come!):

Deborah Karp photoDeborah Karp is an educator, choreographer and performer. She’s a Teaching Artist with Luna Dance Institute and Manager of its School & Community Alliances program. She builds curriculum and co-pilots inclusive dance classes for children with and without disabilities in Oakland public schools, bringing this action research into her school, studio and community teaching. She co-presented this research at the Kennedy Center-VSA Intersections 2017 conference. Alongside her Luna colleagues, Karp also presented at the National Dance Education Organization’s 2014 conference on the panel “Walking Our Talk: How Layered Collaborations Lead to Quality, Integrity, and Possibility”. Karp has also been faculty with San Francisco Ballet’s Dance In Schools and Communities program and Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion®. She is the Artistic Director of Deborah Karp Dance Projects and presents original choreography on both coasts of the United States. Her writing on dance in the classroom and the choreographer/teaching artist identity has been published in the San Francisco publication In Dance.

eric-kupersEmily A. Nusbaum’s professional experiences began as an inclusion facilitator in SFUSD. She has worked as adjunct faculty and as an Assistant Professor in teacher education/inclusive education in California and Colorado. Her research and professional interests are focused on promoting Disability Studies within interdisciplinary and educational contexts. Dr. Nusbaum’s current research is focused on advancing critical, qualitative methods in disability-related research. She is working on various projects utilizing duo-ethnographic methods, in which considerations of power, access, and opportunity are central. She is also invested in promoting more equitable experiences for students who identify as disabled in post-secondary education context.

eric-kupersEric Kupers has co-directed, choreographed, and performed with Dandelion Dancetheater since its inception, creating numerous works that have been presented throughout California, nationally, and internationally. Eric is an Associate Professor of Dance at Cal State University East Bay and is heading up the development of an Inclusive Interdisciplinary Performance program at the university. Eric is the director of Bandelion, an ensemble of dance, music, theater and visual artists committed to ongoing interdisciplinary research, as well as the CSUEB Inclusive Interdisciplinary Ensemble, which brings together students, alumni, community members and professional performers with and without disabilities and from diverse cultures to create original performance works. Eric has created commissioned works for AXIS Dance Company (supported by a Princess Grace Award for Choreography), Big Moves, Cal State University East Bay, California Choreographers Festival, Dancing in the Streets/NYC, and choreography for projects by John Killacky, California Shakespeare Festival, and Highland Summer Theatre.

judy-janetJudith Smith, Director and Founder of AXIS Dance Company, has earned an international reputation in the field of physically integrated dance. She has commissioned works by some of the nation’s best choreographers and composers and has developed one of the field’s most extensive integrated dance education/outreach programs. Judith has performed, taught and lectured nationally.  She was honored with an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Sustained Achievement in 2014, the O2 Initiatives Sabbatical Award in 2015 and in 2016 she was honored as one of Theatre Bay Area’s 40 people that have changed the face of Bay Area theatre.

 Pamela WolfbergPamela Wolfberg, Ph.D. is professor of Special Education and Communicative Disorders at San Francisco State University and on the faculty of the Joint Doctoral program in Special Education at UC, Berkeley. Her primary research interests center on the unique experiences and needs of individuals on the autism spectrum in the areas of socialization, play and imagination, and inclusion in peer culture. As originator of the Integrated Play Groups (IPG) model and founder of the Autism Collective for Peer Socialization, Play and Imagination ( she leads research, training, and development efforts to establish inclusive peer socialization programs worldwide. She is further engaged in global outreach as a human rights advocate for social inclusion in play, recreation, and cultural experiences. She is widely published and the recipient of several eminent awards for her scholarship, research, and service to the community.

Photo_RebeccaPratherRebecca Prather is a dancer, somatic educator, speech-language pathologist, and an inspired/awe-filled mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum.  She is an enraptured enthusiast of neurodiversity, neurodivergence, brain plasticity…and all ways the brain glows and grows when immersed in creative ways of thinking and being. She will complete an M.A. and credential in Educational Administration in December 2017.  She received her M.S. in Communication Disorders in 2012 and an M.A. in Women and Gender Studies 2009 from San Francisco State University. Rebecca wrote her Master’s thesis for Women and Gender Studies on the representational politics of American Belly dance, “The Neo-Imperial Harem: Race, Gender, and Nation in American Belly Dance.”  Rebecca is passionate about the body as a cultural text and an agent of social interruption.  Rebecca teaches arts professional development programs focusing on creative dance as a method of disability inclusion practices, movement and dance to support sensory regulation and social-emotional learning, autobiography and performance community oral histories, and creative dance for narrative building.  As a Communication Therapist, Rebecca specializes in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Alternative Augmentative Communication.

Suzanna CurtisSuzanna Curtis is a third-year graduate student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education at UC, Berkeley and San Francisco State University.  She holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Chicago and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.  Suzanna has studied autistic intelligence, autism and creativity, and her research currently focuses on the fascinations and special interests of autistic individuals.  Current written works in preparation for publication include “Autistic Intelligence: A Review of the Autistic Cognitive Style and its Relation to Intellectual Giftedness.” Suzanna has presented at the 2016 AASCEND conference, SPEDDR, and autism-focused courses and research groups at UCB and SFSU, and her artwork Knitting Playscape was displayed at the Autism Art Resource Center (AARC), 2017.  She is also a member and adviser to the Autism Collective for Peer Socialization, Play and Imagination and the Autism Art Resource Center.  An active participant in autistic culture herself, Suzanna is passionate about educating others about the neurodiversity paradigm.