Are we human? Or are we dancers? Beyond Center Stage performing arts studio in Elmhurst is starting a program that gives everyone the ability to be both. The new class, Beyond Barriers, allows those with special needs to have fun and learn to dance.
“I think it will be great to offer this opportunity for people with disabilities to come move their bodies in ways they can, give them that opportunity to feel comfortable in their own skin and push them beyond their limits,” says dance instructor and elementary education teacher Jennifer Dolson.
Dolson has crafted the program so that it can accommodate the full spectrum of special needs from basic learning disabilities to low functioning students. She is LBS1 certified and will have numerous trained assistants to help.
The first week a student comes, Dolson assesses their abilities and needs so she can craft a unique program for them. For example, if someone is sedentary for many hours a day she will include more leg exercises to work muscles that might be overlooked.
The lights can be dimmed and music levels adjusted for sensory needs. Parents can watch their dancers on screens from a seating area outside the classroom.
There is no age limit, and though workout clothes are recommended, Dolson simply wants her students to show up in whatever feels comfortable.
“I want them to learn a dance move and go home and practice that dance move all the time” because it makes them happy and feel good, she says.
Students can register online at beyondcenterstage.com or in person at 770 N. Church Road, Suite G, Elmhurst. Dolson offers a drop-in option for $12 per class for students who would like to try it out first.