Disabled dancers prepare for first showcase

2 years 2 months 4 days ago Thursday, November 19 2015 Nov 19, 2015 Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:14:00 PM CST November 19, 2015 in Sports
By: Dani Sureck, KOMU 8 Sports Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - Pink and black ballet shoes scurry across the black floor at the start of a new class. Some children are ready to practice pointing their toes and stretching their bodies, while others haven’t warmed up to the idea yet and wait for assistance from a volunteer.

From the window in the office where parents watch their children, it may appear like most dance classes for children: tutus, ballet shoes, and music. However, the DanceAbility classes target a specific group of dancers, those with special needs.

“It’s really rewarding to see,” dance instructor Caitlin Younker said. “Some things that seem so simple, like pointing your foot, they’re really not that simple.”

Jennifer Highbarger, the dance instructor that started the program, realized a dancer in a previous class that needed special attention was probably not the only one that needed more focus on techniques to help her learn better.

DanceAbility offered one class when it started a little over two years ago. Today, three different classes are offered for different age groups: four to eight, eight to twelve and adults. Each session is twelve weeks long and is taught by Younker, along with volunteers with backgrounds in special needs education. The classes are taught through the school of Missouri Contemporary Ballet.

“It’s still like teaching a dance class,” Younker said, “but different keywords and phrases; or different ways to show things that will help the kids with special needs to learn them better.”

Gayla Palmero has two daughters in the DanceAbility adult class and says the program allowed them to continue to dance after most classes got too difficult.

“As they got older, things got harder and they couldn’t catch up,” Palmero said. “They didn’t have any place else to go.”

DanceAbility classes use props and distinctive technique exercises to help tune fine motor skills in dancers to aid in everyday activities. It allows the students to strengthen their core, balance and other skills.

Younker and the volunteers use teddy bears for the younger dancers. The children work on pointing and walking on their toes and leaping over the bears and use ribbons to help with arm movements. They also stretch to strengthen the body, by mimicking animal movements and noises. The older dancers use bars to strengthen their core.

Younker said she has seen progress in the dancers.

“They are having better listening skills, because they are in a classroom setting where they have to focus and listen,” Younker said. “It helps that aspect of their lives, their coordination, and it helps their confidence I think the most. We have a few students,  when they came into class, they had some tears and then they started dancing and the light just turned on. It just makes them feel good about themselves.”

Palmero said the fine motor skills worked on in class have helped her daughters through a fun activity they love.

“I can really see balance developing,” Palmero said. “One of my daughters used to have pretty good balance, but because she hasn’t had this type of [exercise] for a long time, you could tell there were issues with it. I see her building up more balance. This is helpful and she looks forward to it.”

DanceAbility will host its first showcase at the end of the winter session, and Palmero said her daughters are excited to get back on stage for the first time since they were little girls.

“They’ve been talking about it constantly,” Palmero said. “They used to do this when they were little and they remember that. They have videos of when they were little they watch all the time.”

The growth of the program led to the showcase being open to the public. In the past, smaller performances were limited to the classroom with just parents as the audience.

The showcase is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 20 in the Windsor Auditorium at Stephens College at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to help provide scholarships for students in upcoming sessions. People wanting more information on enrollment can email The Missouri Contemporary Ballet.

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens made his first public appearance in nearly two weeks since acknowledging an... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 6:20:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON - It took three days, but Congress has passed a spending bill to end the government shutdown. If... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 5:50:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Eric Greitens addressed his affair for the first time in a news conference while announcing his... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 5:15:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley says he wants a change in state law so that... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 4:44:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
FORSYTH, Mo. — One of two suspects in the death of a 72-year-old Missouri man who was left beaten and... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 4:41:04 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
MOBERLY, Mo. — A Missouri paramedic is accused of burglarizing a patient's home and stealing medication from another home. ... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 4:38:29 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – Columbia residents got their say Monday night on how to make zero traffic-related fatalities a reality. Residents... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 2:59:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – An expert in infectious diseases said viruses like the common cold survive well on surfaces and inanimate objects,... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 2:36:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Gun shop owners and gun buyers had no problem buying or selling a gun during the government shutdown.... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 1:35:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
NEW MADRID (AP) — A southeast Missouri man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for strangling his... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 12:57:00 PM CST January 22, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) — The Latest on the budget battle (all times local): 12:55 p.m. It looks... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 11:58:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Police responded to a reported armed robbery just after midnight Tuesday in the 1600 block of Kitty... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 9:55:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A violent weekend in St. Louis has left two people dead and four others injured in... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 9:00:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an officer has shot and killed a suburban Kansas City teenager while responding... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 7:16:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Authorities say a 9-year-old has been fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire in Kansas City.... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 7:00:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
LAKE WALES, Fla. (CNN) -- Two improvised explosive devices detonated at a Florida mall on Sunday that has left police... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, January 22 2018 Jan 22, 2018 Monday, January 22, 2018 5:58:00 AM CST January 22, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Eric Greitens will release his budget recommendations for 2019 at 4 p.m. Monday. A press... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, January 21 2018 Jan 21, 2018 Sunday, January 21, 2018 10:24:00 PM CST January 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Some say, the summer body is made in the winter, and Clovers Natural Market is hoping a clean... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, January 21 2018 Jan 21, 2018 Sunday, January 21, 2018 7:32:00 PM CST January 21, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 34°
3am 30°
4am 29°
5am 29°
6am 29°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

2:07a
Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda
3:00a
Early Today
3:30a
Early Today
2:00a
Paid Program
2:30a
Paid Program
3:00a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Ellen's Game of Games
8:00p
This Is Us
9:01p
Chicago Med
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
Black Lightning
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld