MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every Tuesday, as part of our Community Changers series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better. This week, we caught up with a group that believes in communicating through dance.

Disciplined, dedicated and determined. Those are a few words that describe the dancers of Company D, a non-profit program for young adults with intellectual disabilities.  

Darlene Winters is the artistic director. “The teaching artists that come are in modern, jazz, ballet and Spanish. [We also] have a fitness instructor here. Everyone is born with strengths. We all have them. So often in the arts, that gift or talent or aptitude, however, you want to define it, is not tapped.”

We caught up with the group during their summer intensive workshop. 

Yosek had the dancers gliding across the floor during his ballet class, and Elita had the group swishing their arms, swinging their hips and moving their feet to her count during the Spanish dance lesson.

Mary Lynn has been taking ballet since she was a kid. “It’s good for my body, it’s good for my shape. It’s everything.”

Mckenzie’s favorite dance so far is the salsa. “The salsa dance is like– you can make it spicy.”

After the summer session, they meet weekly to build upon their choreographed routine that will be featured in their spring performance.

“The different kinds of music we use gives them a wonderful avenue or thread or outlet to have that artistic expression,” said Winters.

Ben has been with Company D since 2018, and David has been with them for over 20 years. His core is rock solid during all those lifts.

That is why Brown Missionary Baptist Church wanted to give Company D $1,000 because tapping into someone’s ability instead of pointing out their disability is life-changing.

A true community changer.

For more information about Company D, click here.