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"Rhythm Bath" aims to help make performing arts more accessible to families with disabilities

"Rhythm Bath" aims to help make performing arts more accessible to families with disabilities
"Rhythm Bath" aims to help make performing arts more accessible to families with disabilities 02:53

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The world premiere of a one-of-a-kind dance installation is underway in Philadelphia. It's a collaboration between a Tony Award-winning designer and a choreographer whose mission is to make the performing arts more accessible to families with disabilities.

Dancers weave in and out of the audience in a set that you won't see anywhere else.

"I thought it was time for a change," renowned choreographer Susan Marshall said.

Marshall said it was her own experience with her autistic son that led to her creating this unique performance called "Rhythm Bath."

"It's not just my son who is missing out on the cultural conversation that is happening in the broader world, it's his family," Marshall said. "Because if he stays home, we stay home"

"Rhythm bath" was designed to be a sensory experience for people considered to be neurodiverse. That's the term used for those who may have conditions that cause them to interact with the world differently, including autism, Parkinson's disease, and Tourette syndrome.

"The hope was that there was no wrong way to inhabit the space," Tony Award-winning designer Mimi Lien said.

Lien created the interactive 360-degree space, so you can come and walk right through the middle of the space. You can come and lie down on the floor, you can sit on various chairs.

"The primary element of the design is a fabric ceiling that is in motion constantly," Lien said, "so it perhaps gives the feeling of a sail being blown by the wind."

CBS News Philadelphia was there as they were prepping the stage at the Christ Church Neighborhood House in Old City. The production uses sound and dance, immersing the audience within the space and the artists in "Rhythm Bath."

"It is a bath of movement, maybe there are smells," artist Albert Quesada said. "Maybe there is air that goes through you. There is the desire to welcome all sensitivities and spectrums in the audience."

"You get to be in the space and see the audience, responding to the dance in real time," artist Vanessa Knouse said.

For its creators, being accessible and inclusive are the ultimate goals.

"It's contemporary art and in that respect, I hope it's a beautiful and joyous experience," Marshall said.

"I just want people to feel that there's no wrong way to be," Lien said.

"Rhythm bath" is being put on in conjunction with Temple University Institute on Disabilities.

The institute is making some tickets available for the neurodiverse community. Requests for ticket can be emailed to

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