Disabled dancers prepare for first showcase

4 years 3 months 1 week 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
COLUMBIA - The family of Mengqi Ji, who has been missing since October and is presumed dead, released a statement... More >>
16 minutes ago Wednesday, February 26 2020 Feb 26, 2020 Wednesday, February 26, 2020 11:12:23 AM CST February 26, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Emergency responders have reported numerous crashes, slide-offs and other incidents related to slick roads Wednesday morning. One... More >>
3 hours ago Wednesday, February 26 2020 Feb 26, 2020 Wednesday, February 26, 2020 7:50:00 AM CST February 26, 2020 in News
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Bernie Sanders faced a torrent of attacks Tuesday night during a raucous debate that tested the Democratic... More >>
15 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 8:20:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - One group of former service men and women is making a difference across the state providing help... More >>
15 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 8:10:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
JEFFERSON CITY - New technology installed by Ameren could provide more responsive service if severe weather comes to Jefferson City.... More >>
16 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 6:45:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia neighborhood watch is still relevant despite social media and sites like Nextdoor. Neighborhood watch programs encourage... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 5:51:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
HOLTS SUMMIT - The American Cancer Society's annual "Stick a Fork in Cancer" campaign welcomes a new restaurant. BluTaco joins... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 5:34:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe today filed to run for election in 2020. Kehoe has served as... More >>
18 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 5:12:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia Public Works plow crews are scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, to prepare for possible... More >>
18 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 4:54:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY— Tuesday at the Missouri State Capitol, representatives heard testimony from people in regards to a house bill that... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 3:25:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Mike Parson and Auditor Nicole Galloway filed to run for governor on Tuesday. It was... More >>
21 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 2:26:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA -- The Civil Rights Movement was a time of racially charged protests and marches. Some activists took to the... More >>
21 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 2:10:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri joined 38 other states in an investigation into Juul Labs on Tuesday. Those states are looking into... More >>
21 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 1:59:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia College announced Tuesday it is laying off 49 employees across the nation, including 25 at its Columbia... More >>
22 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 12:59:00 PM CST February 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA- An announcement from Bishop Shawn McKnight at Father Tolton today revealed the school's $6.2 million-dollar debt will be completely... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 11:46:00 AM CST February 25, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri joined a bipartisan, multistate investigation of JUUL Labs on Tuesday, according to Missouri Attorney General Eric... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 11:33:00 AM CST February 25, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- Snuggling next to my kitties while their furry chests softly rumble is a proven antidote to the day's... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 9:16:39 AM CST February 25, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
COLUMBIA - Police arrested a man connected to a deadly shooting during a home invasion in Columbia in early February.... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, February 25 2020 Feb 25, 2020 Tuesday, February 25, 2020 8:17:28 AM CST February 25, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 33°
12pm 36°
1pm 36°
2pm 36°
3pm 37°