Some kids want to dance from the moment they can walk. It’s something inside of them. It can hardly be contained.
That’s definitely the case for Ava, a fearless, friendly and fun girl born with a rare genetic disorder. Ava didn’t walk or talk until she was three. But today, despite challenges around balance and coordination, she still wants to dance.
And she does. Thanks to an inclusive dance studio in Oakville.
Artistic Dance Scene in Oakville, Ontario offers an Adaptive Dance class for all ages and abilities. Three years since its inception, the class provides dance instruction—a mixture of ballet, acro, jazz and basic tumbling—to kids who have physical or cognitive disabilities.
“She counts down the days on her calendar until her next class. She’s in her happy place as soon as she walks in the door of the studio,” says the mother of one of the young dancers.
“I know she’s in good hands—she’s safe and having the time of her life. I feel so lucky to have found this creative outlet for my daughter,” says another mom.
Aimee Hamilton Vapsva is the studio’s owner. She was approached by a mother whose daughter uses a walker for mobility. Her younger daughter danced at the studio and she wondered if there might be an opportunity for both girls to dance.
When Stephanie Sturino, a beloved and incredibly talented teacher at ADS heard this, she created this unique program and she teaches the weekly class with the help of senior dancers who volunteer their time and expertise.
The programme runs September through May. In early June the class performs on the big stage along with their teacher and volunteer dance partners at the studio recital. It’s beautiful and emotional. And when the lights come up, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.
“I love teaching this class,” says Miss Stephanie. “There’s so much joy and it’s contagious. The kids dance without inhibition or fear. They’re all enthusiasm and heart. They make me so proud.”
Although very inclusive, to be successful in the class, students must be able to participate independently, without parental supervision. As well, they need to be able to follow a series of three-four step directions.
The first year that Adaptive Dance was in the year-end recital, I was lucky enough to be watching from the audience. One of my daughters was in another class. I didn’t yet know what Adaptive Dance was, but what I witnessed gave me chills all over my arms and tears in my eyes.
I not only saw a teacher who absolutely believed in what she was doing with all of her being, I saw a dance studio committed to teaching all kids about inclusion and acceptance.
I also saw a group of kids overcoming challenges to do what they love.
I saw them dance.
If you live West of the GTA and are interested in trying a free class to see if it’s a fit, contact the studio for more information: 905.845.7272 artisticdancescene.ca
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