Sioux FallsRapid City

“Vita” production truly melted away perceptions of disabilities

The Children’s Care/Flutter Productions performance of Vita on July 19-20 exceeded the expectations of nearly everyone who attended, and brought tears to the eyes of more than a few. The mixed-ability, all-ages production blurred the lines on the “abilities” of the performers, just as writer/director Heather Pickering of Flutter Productions intended.

“It changes people’s own perceptions of what they’re capable of achieving,” Pickering told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader in a story published on opening day. “Students are celebrated for what makes them unique. They’re being raised and lifted up.”

Vita was staged at the Augustana College Edith Mortenson Theatre, with three performances. The cast of 31 included Children’s Care students and others from the community with disabilities, college and high school dancers, seasoned area actors, and children who had never been on stage. In fact, 21 of the performers made their stage debut with Vita.


A growing seed from the production of "Vita."

Children’s Care music therapist Cherie Ortman, a long-time advocate for music and other arts programming for life-enrichment wrote to the cast, “Your story on the great stage with lights and sounds and music, has given a wonderful message to the community of Sioux Falls! You were seeds and bird, rivers and wind, scientists and discoverers, ushers and operators, dancers and directors, all working together to create a wonderful story of believing! Your audience of family, classmates, friends, and neighbors, all loved your colors, your moves, your expressions, your joy. You were a storytelling team, and the story you told was like a great big gift you opened for us on the stage, with practice and care. Thank you, each one, for being yourself, your character, your best, and telling your story so well!”

Andrea Schaefer of Rapid City, the choreographer for Flutter Productions, called the production “a dream come true for a choreographer,” saying it gave her the chance to find a new movement category.

The South Dakota Arts Council and Excel Energy provided funding for Vita, with support from the Augustana College Theatre Department and the Suzi Cappa Arts Center.

The production was the first project of the newly created Children’s Care Center for the Arts, which is designed to provide children and adults with disabilities the opportunity to fully experience performing and visuals arts. Funding for the Children’s Care Center for the Arts is provided by the South Dakota Arts Council, the Children’s Care Auxiliary, and private supporters. Jamie Richardson, Project Manager for the Education Department, is the driving force behind the Center for the Arts, and deserves the thanks and recognition of all who enjoyed this experience!

Pickering left for her home in Rapid City with this thought: “Single most tear-filled ending to a project ever! Leaving a community and those faces behind has all of us still crying consistently 24 hours later. I am so thankful and so proud to have encountered so many amazing human beings this past month in Sioux Falls. How I wish we could just take everyone with us.”

Thanks to all who performed, all who helped, and all who attended. Our perceptions are forever changed!

For a gallery of photos from the Argus Leader, click here.

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