To read on Hamilton Community Foundation website:
Foundation Grants to Dancing Without Limits at Miami Valley Ballet Theatre
Miami Valley Ballet Theater
Foundation Grants to Dancing Without Limits
“I would venture to say that most dance companies do not work with people with ‘disabilities,’ and you seem to seek out how you can include them. Thank you for teaching my daughter that everyone can dance. I believe as she grows up, it will allow her to be more accepting of people.”
These are words of gratitude for Michelle Davis of the Miami Valley Ballet Theater (MVBT), from Audra Buckley, whose daughter is in the Dancing without Limits program there. The Hamilton Community Foundation’s $3,000 grant to Dancing without Limits helped fund two dance classes this year for children and adults with disabilities.
The 16 year old dance company relocated to the former Hamilton Journal News Building on Court Street in downtown Hamilton two years ago. The building’s large windows and open spaces made it an ideal fit for a studio. The theater also regularly hosts classes for people in Hamilton and surrounding areas ages two through older adult, in jazz, tap, pointe, modern and musical theater and hosting two public recitals each year starring its students.
“We are extremely proud to be a part of the community of greater Hamilton, a community which has a rich history in supporting the arts,” says Davis. “Hamilton is also a community which supports its citizens with disabilities,” she adds.
This is the first grant the Foundation has made to the MVBT. The Foundation’s grant covered almost half of the costs of the Dancing Without Limits program for a year.
Davis’ idea to bring movement classes here for those living with disabilities stemmed from research she did online about a similar successful program in Boston. Staff of that long-term program have documented outcomes ranging from enhanced self-esteem to increased ability to focus, increased proficiency in distinguishing right from left, following directions, starting and stopping on cue, awareness of body movement patterns and cooperating with others.
The dance instructors for classes are trained to work with those with special needs. The class for children with Autism and Down’s Syndrome includes dance and other kinds of body movement and sometimes incorporating bean bags, balance pods and parachutes. Parents choose to whether be in the classroom or watch the class on a closed circuit monitor in the waiting room.
“Every week is different, every child is different,” says Davis. “The kids are very sensitive to change.” She keeps the music and even the order of songs in the class consistent from week to week.
Davis has a Master’s degree in education and experience teaching creative movement to pre-K classes to children with Autism and Down’s syndrome at Hamilton Public Schools and Westover Preparatory School. Dance and creative movement for this population is not only recreational, it is therapeutic and confidence building, she says.
Emma Dingledein attends the Hamilton Freshmen School and volunteers in MVBT’s class for children with disabilities. “The experience is absolutely amazing… I think that I learn more from them then they do from me,” she says. “I think dance is pulling them out of their shells. I can’t wait to see what else they do with dance in the future and what else they will teach me.” (…)