A catalog of five films was selected to support public media’s Move to Include initiative, which is designed to encourage awareness and dialogue surrounding disability issues.
The final presentation in the collection is “Perfectly Normal for Me,” a documentary showcasing children and teens with physical disabilities pursuing their love of movement at Dancing Dreams in Bayside.
Directed by Catherine Tambini, the film focuses on four Dancing Dreams students in particular: Alexandria, Jake, Veronica and Caitlin, who each strive to be strong voices for their community.
The project follows the youngsters over the course of one school year as they prepare for a spring dance recital.
“I was taught a lot about self acceptance and perseverance by working with these kids,” said Tambini. “They all want to dance and will stop at nothing to get to that dance class on Thursday afternoons every week. I was there to capture that, and it led me into their lives.”
Not every day is an easy one, but Tambini says the students accept the challenges they face with both grace and dignity. With conviction, compassion and kindness, the students gain self-confidence while building strong relationships with one another.
The documentary also highlights the students’ dedicated support network, which includes parents, teenage volunteers and Dancing Dreams founder Joann Ferrara. During the film, the students receive a visit from prima ballerina Jenifer Ringer, then-principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.
“No matter what your circumstances, there is always hope and something else to strive for,” Tambini noted. “Sometimes when we think something is the end of the world, maybe it's not, it might just be the beginning.”
For the New York City-based filmmaker, who has had a lifelong passion for dance herself, “Perfectly Normal for Me” is a project that takes her career full circle.
The first film Tambini ever co-produced was about the iconic American ballerina Suzanne Farrell. Through her work with the Dance Dreams students, Tambini was able to deepen her awareness of the art from an entirely new perspective.
“Perfectly Normal for Me” is available for streaming through July 30 at worldchannel.org