Last summer the Montana Ballet Company launched its new Adaptive Dance Program to provide introductory ballet instruction and creative movement lessons for children aged five to 12 with Down syndrome.
Since this time, MBC Artistic Director Elizabeth DeFanti says the program has been successful and has five children currently enrolled in the class. In addition to offering ballet as a way for the students to express themselves, a local physical therapist oversees the students’ movements, while an accompanying percussionist establishes a rhythm for everyone to step to.
While the class will perform a short routine at the company’s end-of-season showcase in May, instructor Karen Smith explained that this is about more than just dancing. Her curriculum focuses on strengthening exercises and building social skills, in addition to teaching fundamental ballet steps.
DeFanti says she wants to expand the program and include children with other disabilities in the future.