Everyone can dance

Dancing for inclusion

The Christopherus Lebens- und Arbeitsgemeinschaft Laufenmühle, an institution for around 95 people with intellectual disabilities, implemented an inclusive dance project to "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff in the summer of 2013. In a three-week workshop, 150 disabled and non-disabled participants developed a performance together with internationally renowned choreographers which was presented to an audience of 4,000 people at the beginning of July 2013 at three open-air events. In addition to 70 disabled residents of the facility supporting the project, male and female pupils of the local Janusz Korczak special needs school and the Albertville secondary school in Winnenden took part, as well as 150 orchestra and choir musicians. The project was overseen by an inclusive film crew and celebrated its cinema premiere in November 2014 at the 36th Biberach Film Festival.

Unlike other forms of artistic expression, such as the theatre or singing, there are no barriers to dancing for people with disabilities. This is the reason why dance was selected for the inclusive project of the Christopherus Lebens- und Arbeitsgemeinschaft Laufenmühle e.V. The focal point of the initiative is the aspect of inclusion as it has been formulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Here the aim is that it should be made possible for people with disabilities also to participate in artistic fields.

A total of 150 disabled and non-disabled participants danced together to "Carmina Burana". The aim of the project was to break down barriers between the different groups of participants and form a community of solidarity into which everyone could incorporate their individual skills. At the same time the cultural event, the size of which was unique for the rural area 30 km to the east of Stuttgart, was intended to bring home to a wide public the opportunities offered by the inclusion project. With the Minister President of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, as the patron and a renowned team of choreographers led by Wolfgang Stange (London) and Royston Maldoom ("Rhythm is it!"), it was possible to provide the project with the necessary transregional appeal. Three sold-out performances, plenty of enthusiastic feedback from guests and participants, as well as the touching cinema film "Carmina – long live the difference!" bear witness to the great success of the project.   


The Christopherus Lebens- und Arbeitsgemeinschaft

The Christopherus Lebens- und Arbeitsgemeinschaft is a facility for 95 intellectually disabled individuals. It has more than 115 full-time employees in the fields of housing and workshops, as well as in the support and care sector. With the establishment of the ONE+ALL sensory experience environment, a near-natural themed and recreational park, the facility has succeeded since 2007 in providing a successful inclusion model for its 80,000 annual guests. At the various points and installations, sensory experiences are provided and social skills promoted. The guests are occasionally looked after by 40 intellectually disabled individuals from the facility.

The success of this inclusion platform has also given a boost to innovative projects which the facility has been initiating for several years. For example, after the killing spree in Winnenden, 900 pupils from the Albertville secondary school and other schools, as well as intellectually disabled individuals, constructed a monumental cathedral made of willow trees as a living monument that serves as a reminder of the terrible events in Winnenden, while at the same time looking ahead as a living structure.

The facility also operates two coffee roasters and the tourist office of the town of Welzheim, thereby also creating a large radius of action. With initiatives such as the Carmina dance project or the sensory experience environment, the facility is able to transform its actual locational disadvantage far from the cultural life of the city into an advantage. Because the attractive offerings in the middle of the wonderful countryside of Welzheimer Forest have transformed the remote Christopherus community into a pulsating cultural venue and meeting place.

What were the funds of the MAHLE FOUNDATION specifically used for?

The funding from the MAHLE FOUNDATION, which was applied for relatively late compared to other sponsors, was ultimately decisive in helping to close the remaining funding gap. In addition to the main funding for "Aktion Mensch" – the charity organisation which is committed to the coexistence of people with and without disabilities – and the Baden-Württemberg Foundation, the MAHLE FOUNDATION contributed towards guaranteeing the smooth running of the complex logistics of the project, especially during the test phase.  

The film "Carmina - long live the difference!"

The dance project was overseen by film-maker Sebastian Heinzel and his inclusive film crew. From over 80 hours of film material, an 80-minute documentary was created whose premiere was held at the 36th Biberach Film Festival in November 2014. In December 2014 the film was also released as a DVD.