There’s more to gain from ballet than just balance and grace. Children gain confidence and learn to navigate tricky social connections with their peers. Opportunities for children to hone these skills abound, but this is not necessarily the case for children who are ill or who have a disability.
A dance school, in Bristol, England, recognized this lack of opportunity and did something about it. The dance school, which describes itself as “an inclusive dance school where all youngsters can spread their wings,” provides children of all abilities with the opportunity to enjoy ballet alongside their peers.
The founder of the dance school says, “The aim is for classes to offer access to mainstream dance activity, develop confidence, social skills, coordination, communication and concentration….We wanted to create something not segregated just for disabled children, but a vibrant, lovely place where everyone’s needs are catered for—parents and children.”
There’s no question that there’s a need for this type of classes. When they first launched, 200 families applied for 15 places. Approximately 22% of the children participating do not have a disability.
The goals of the program are on trips and performances, not on exams. Sessions include drama, dance and yoga, and they incorporate sensory items like feathers, dance ribbons and scarves. They use flashcards for children with hearing impairments. The classes are run in schools around the country.