2016’s National Dance Week has officially begun and this year’s focus will be on giving children a “ Chance to Dance”. As explained on the National Dance Week website -Children with special needs and learning differences are often excluded from traditional dance and arts programs. It’s our collective mission to provide the education and tools necessary for teachers, students, and parents to effectively facilitate inclusion, giving all the “Chance to Dance!”
As a movement that Costume Gallery feels very strongly about and to celebrate giving children a “ Chance to Dance,” we will be showcasing the Dancing Dreams program all week long.
Dancing Dreams is a nonprofit program founded by Joann Ferrara after hearing a child with cerebral palsy say, “ I wish I could be a dancer, but nobody wants me.” From those words, a dream was born into an amazing program where 90 dancers are currently enrolled. Dancing Dreams has a mission of allowing physically challenged children the opportunity to participate in dance classes and recitals. The 90 students that make up Dancing Dreams are boys and girls ages 3-21 that dance in one of seven weekly classes in the New York area. What makes the program even more special is the fact that regardless of a suggested donation, no dancer is ever turned away for the inability to pay, and more than 85% of the dancers are on scholarship.
All of the Dancing Dreams classes are taught by licensed physical therapists who understand the children’s abilities and how to allow them to dance to their fullest potential. Each dancer works with a ‘Helper’ who is a student, age 13-18, enrolled in the Teen Leadership program. The program works with high school students in the surrounding areas to improve self-esteem and leadership skills. Currently, 130 students volunteer as ‘Helpers’ for the Dancing Dreams program, which is why this is such a success.
What truly makes this program special, is the dancers themselves. This past March Meredith Vieira featured Dancing Dreams on her show and they have collaborated with the New York City Ballet. Next week Costume Gallery wants to give you the chance to get to know the wonderful dancers of Dancing Dreams. Starting Monday, April 25 through April 29, we will be featuring a dancer on all of our social media outlets.
Make sure you are following us on Facebook (Costume Gallery) and Instagram (Costume Gallery Costumes), so you don’t miss out on getting to know these remarkable dancers.