Bio:

Marisa discovered & fell in love with ballroom dancing while recovering from Spinal Cord Infarction, a rare stroke which laid her temporarily paralyzed from the neck down while in college. In 2015, Marisa founded Infinite Flow – An Inclusive Dance Company, a professional inclusive dance company and nonprofit that uses dance as a vehicle to empower people and eliminate the stigma associated with disability. Marisa has performed with and brought Infinite Flow to over 70 engagements, including performing at Apple HQ’s Steve Jobs Theater in front of CEO Tim Cook; and has hosted hundreds of inclusive dance classes, workshops, and events.  Her videos track over 40 million video views on Facebook alone, and have been shared by actor George Takei and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Programs:

Dance Performance

NOTE: Can be performed with Marisa + 1 or a troupe of dancers from Infinite Flow – An Inclusive Dance Company

Marisa is a professional ballroom dancer and a specialist of inclusive dance.  Her regular wheelchair dance partners include Piotr Iwanicki, 12-year world champion in wheelchair dancesport, and Adelfo Cerame Jr., a professional bodybuilder turned ballroom dancer.  Both dancers are active members of Infinite Flow – An Inclusive Dance Company. She delivers performances, sometimes combined with speaking, that are inspiring, game-changing, and innovative that disrupts the status quo.  Marisa has performed hundreds of times, and her clients include Apple Inc., Red Bull, P&G, Los Angeles Music Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and more

Programs:

Turn Your Passion to Purpose

I believe each person can use their passion to do good in the world.  My passion has been dance as long as I can remember. When I was a teenager, my dream was to be a professional ballerina, but I simply didn’t fit the ballet mold, and it was no after no.  But, I didn’t give up and continued dancing. When I had a stroke which caused me to become paralyzed from the neck down, then told by the doctor that I may never walk or dance again, I thought my dance career was over.  After feeling rejected and excluded as a dancer my whole life, I made it my purpose to help each person discover the dancer inside themselves, and create a community where each person is welcomed. So what is your passion?  Or what is the thing that gets you most excited? What if there was way to use this to make the world a better place? When you align your passion and purpose, it leads to INFINITE IMPACT, and miracles happen.

Marisa discovered & fell in love with ballroom dancing while recovering from Spinal Cord Infarction, a rare stroke which laid her temporarily paralyzed from the neck down while in college. In 2015, Marisa founded Infinite Flow – An Inclusive Dance Company, a professional inclusive dance company and nonprofit that uses dance as a vehicle to empower people and eliminate the stigma associated with disability. Marisa has performed with and brought Infinite Flow to over 70 engagements, including performing at Apple HQ’s Steve Jobs Theater in front of CEO Tim Cook; and has hosted hundreds of inclusive dance classes, workshops, and events.  Her videos track over 40 million video views on Facebook alone and have been shared by actor George Takei and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.  Her media credits include NBC Today, ABC Good Morning America, Inside Edition, Refinery 29, among many others.

#InfiniteInclusion – Diversity Leads to Infinite Possibilities

Inclusion starts with you.  Connecting with someone new or different gives you the opportunity to learn something new, leading to new ideas and collaborations.  Dance is a universal language, and when you dance with someone you forget race, color, size, age, ability, and disability. I grew up being the “other”.  I was one of the only Asian-American at school and after school activities including dance, and I occasionally experienced some bullying related to the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes.  I moved to Tokyo in 2003 to attend Keio University. I moved to Japan thinking that I would finally fit in among a people that was the same color as me, but that was not the case. I was Japanese by blood, looked Japanese, and spoke Japanese with no accents, but I was “American on the inside”.  I was “different”, making friends was a challenge, and I often felt excluded. Through building and leading Infinite Flow – An Inclusive Dance Company, I have let go of the biases I had around people with disabilities and have witnessed people thrive through practicing inclusion. #InfiniteInclusion leades to INFINITE Possibilities.

Find Your Unique Path

Growing up, I thought becoming a Principal Dancer with a big famous ballet company was the only path to a successful dance career, but the ballerina career didn’t happen and life had other plans for me.  Ballroom dancing found me and put me on a renewed path to dance while recovering from the trauma from paralysis. But even as a ballroom dancer who initially aspired to go up the ranks in competitive ballroom dancing, I struggled to find dance partners to compete with. While trying to find ground, I volunteered some time teaching a group of people with Parkinson’s disease.  This experience reminded me of the transformative benefits of dance, and it eventually led me to discover wheelchair dancing. When I learned that there are over 1 billion people with disabilities globally who had little access to dance, I knew it was my destiny to do something about it. As soon as one door to wheelchair dancing opened, many other opportunities followed, and this led to finding Infinite Flow, which has not only allowed many people of all abilities and all walks of life to discover their own dance voice, but also to opportunities as an artist beyond what I initially set forth.  If you pay attention to the clues that come to you, you start to see your own unique path to living life with passion and purpose, and this leads to INFINITE POSSIBILITIES. What is your unique path? What makes you an unique brand?

Take Action – Just Do It

It’s easy to talk about an idea, but actually doing it is another story.  You got to start somewhere and sometimes you’ll be surprised at the momentum that you will gain by taking baby steps.  Baby steps add up to a couple big steps, and like muscle memory when learning how to dance or learning a new skill, taking action starts to become second nature the more you do it the easier it gets.  I may not seem it, but I am an introvert, and it’s not easy to always make phone calls and go meet new people, but my passion and purpose fuels me to do things out of my comfort zone. So finding and embracing your purpose makes it easier to take action and get sh** done.  There are only positive results in taking action. One action and its response, leads you to the next action, like a chain reaction. But you’ve got to take that first baby step (or first scooch), and you will be surprised of where you end up. INFINITE CONTRIBUTION

Say Thank You

During the 2 months in the hospital following the stroke that left me paralyzed from the neck down, I realized that I had taken dancing and so many other things in life for granted.  The process of gaining back sensation and mobility taught me to be grateful for each day and each moment in life. Now I have a daily ritual to wake up saying THANK YOU and reflect on a few things I am grateful for each night before falling asleep.  When I warm up for a dance practice or take ballet class, I remind myself of how grateful I am to be able to dance, and each time I see family or friends or have meetings with new and old faces, I consciously acknowledge how lucky I am to have wonderful people in my life.  By practicing INFINITE GRATITUDE you are sending good vibes out into the universe and more good things come back and you naturally become a better problem solver. What are some things you take for granted? What are some things you could be more grateful for?

Dance Workshop & Team Building

Marisa believes dance is empowering and beneficial for all.  She has a gift to get people dancing and moving, even if they are initially hesitant to do so.  She believes partner dancing is a powerful tool that could be used to break barriers and biases between people, and build a more inclusive culture within any work, educational, or social setting.  She is available for team building workshops within corporations, educational settings, public offices, events, activations, and more.