Sep 5, 2015

Passion for Dance Overcomes Disability: Fellow Launches Company of Wheelchair Dancers

Hamamoto, right, with a wheelchair dancer

Hamamoto, right, with a wheelchair dancer

Marisa Hamamoto, a 2007 Sylff fellowship recipient at Keio University, has launched Infinite Flow, America’s first professional wheelchair ballroom dance company. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that seeks to share the power of dance and performance with physically challenged individuals.

Hamamoto has been passionate about ballet and contemporary dance since childhood, prompting her to study the biomechanics of dancing as well as dance educational policy for her master’s degree at Keio. While a student, however, she was diagnosed with spinal cord infarction, a severe neurological disease that left her paralyzed from the neck down. Her passion for dance, though, gave her the strength and energy to combat and entirely recover from her illness.

Today, she is a professional ballroom dancer and teaches dance full-time. Her personal experience with overcoming a debilitating disease provided the motivation for the establishment of Infinite Flow as a way of sharing her passion and love for dancing with those with physically disabilities.

Click on the link below to read an interview with Hamamoto that was published in Rafu Shimpo, the largest English-Japanese bilingual newspaper in the United States.