This inclusive dance company is breaking down disability barriers in stunning ways.

During a college dance class, Marisa Hamamoto suffered a rare stroke that left her temporarily paralyzed.

In 2006, while a senior at Keio University in Japan, Marisa Hamamoto suddenly became paralyzed from the neck down during a contemporary dance class. The next day, she was diagnosed with a spinal cord infarction, a rare form of stroke.

Though she regained mobility and was able to leave the hospital after two months, the experience changed her. She dove right back into dance and fell in love with ballroom dancing. But after returning to her home state of California in 2012, she began wondering what her life as a dancer would have been like if she hadn't regained the use of her legs.


Realizing that there were countless people without the use of their legs or other limbs who find themselves shut out of the dance world, Hamamoto set out on a mission to break down those walls.

Baile en silla

INFINITE FLOW -O FLUJO INFINITO- ES UNA COMPAÑÍA DE DANZAS DONDE LA SILLA DE RUEDAS NO SOLO ACOMPAÑA, TAMBIÉN PROTAGONIZAInfinite Flow - An Inclusive Dance Companyance

Posted by VIDAS Reales on Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hamamoto has made it her life's work to bring out the dancer in every person, regardless of physical disability.  

In 2014, Hamamoto discovered wheelchair dancing, but quickly realized that the dance form was highly underdeveloped. So she decided to fill the gap.

With a belief that everyone has a dancer inside of them, Hamamoto founded a professional wheelchair dance troupe, now known as "Infinite Flow — an Inclusive Dance Company." She says she focused on the words INCLUSION, BREAKING BARRIERS, BEAUTY, and INNOVATION as the foundation for her work.

Those four ideas shine through in every performance from Infinite Flow. Watching videos of their performances, it's hard not to be wowed by what you're seeing. Check out this stunning performance of Sara Bareilles' "Gravity" and tell me it doesn't give you chills:

Sara Bareilles "Gravity" Performed by Marisa Hamamoto & Piotr Iwanicki

Please Share! A Special Valentines Day Gift to YOU from Infinite Flow - An Inclusive Dance Company. We use dance as a vehicle to empower people and eliminate the stigma associated with disability. We challenge our artists to erase the line between "disability" and "non-disability" and strive for innovation. Thank you for following our journey, and hope this video gives you some inspiration for the day. For Booking Requests please contact marisa@InfiniteFlowDance.org - Artists - Music: Sara Bareilles "Gravity" Dancers: Marisa Hamamoto (Founder & Artistic Director, Infinite Flow)Piotr Iwanicki (Guest Artist, Infinite Flow)Choreographer: Gary FrancoVideo: Kenzo K. Le

Posted by Infinite Flow - An Inclusive Dance Company on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hamamoto sees Infinite Flow not just as a dance company, but as a social movement.

The vision driving Infinite Flow's work is simple: "A global community where everyone celebrates each other’s differences." However, what's simple on paper can be complicated in real life. People with disabilities face daily challenges from society, from access to stigma associated with their conditions.

From the beginning, Hamamoto's mission has been "to use dance as a vehicle to mainstream inclusion and eliminate the stigma behind disability." Even the language used in the studio reflects this commitment. Dancing with a wheelchair is like speaking a different language, so instead of words like "adapt" or "modify" when choreographing a routine or learning dance moves, they use the word "translate."

Infinite Flow is making waves both in the dance world and in society at large. Hamamoto has now taught more than 200 wheelchair dancers, her troupe has performed at more than 70 events, and they're showing know signs of slowing down. "There are over one billion people in the world with a disability who have little access to dance," Hamamoto told Good Morning America. "I think it's my destiny to do something about it."

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In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

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Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

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Courtesy of Macy's

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