Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener disability dance troupe overwhelmed by donated tap shoes

After putting a call out for donations in April, Kitchener's Dancing with Disability troupe has received box after box of used tap dancing shoes from across Canada.

Group grateful, surprised at tapping into national interest to donate

The group Dancing with Disability, for people who have movement disorders, has received a number of tap shoes from across the country. Now everyone in the group has a pair of shoes for a performance June 5. (Jill Simpson/Dancing with Disability)

A local dance troupe for people with movement disorders has all the tap shoes it needs, and then some, after donations came in from across the country.

Dancing with Disability founder Jill Simpson put the call out for tap shoes in April.

Her group – which spells disability "disAbility" with a lowercase d and uppercase a to highlight the abilities members have – is for people who have movement disorders caused by a number of reasons including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, stroke or brain injury. 

The response, Simpson said this week, was overwhelming. They now have enough tap shoes in all shapes and sizes for every group member, who likely couldn't have afforded a couple of hundred dollars to buy new ones.

"There's not that many men's [size] 13.5 tap shoes out there but lo and behold, we needed a 13.5 and it came," Simpson said.

Storied soles

"We had shoes donated from right across the country and most of them came with little stories," she said.

One pair came from Saskatchewan, from a family who said the shoes had belonged to their mother, who danced when she was younger.

"She hadn't worn those tap shoes since 1940 and they were waiting for an appropriate place to send them," Simpson said.
Members of Dancing with Disability learn their dance moves ahead of a performance on June 5. (Jill Simpson/Dancing with Disability)

Another day, a donor visited Simpson in person.

"I quit tapping 25 years ago and my teacher said, 'You hold on to those shoes and someone will ask for them one day.' And he says, 'Today's the day,'" Simpson said he told her. 

June 5 performance

The group is now rehearsing for their June 5 performance at Kitchener City Hall.

They will be taking part in Independent Living Across Canada events. Similar events are taking place across the country.

Many of those dancing that day have never told friends or neighbours about their mobility conditions, Simpson said.

"It is about stepping outside your ordinary," she said. "Dancing with Disability is there to say to people with disabilities, of we can do this, heck, you can do something outside of your ordinary as well."

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