Ballet Arizona Launches Adapted Program For Children And Teens With Down Syndrome
PHOENIX – Children and adolescents with Down’s syndrome learn and develop their dance skills through a unique program.
Alexandra Papazian, education and community engagement manager for Ballet Arizona, explains that the organization saw a need in the community that could be met through dance.
“We are an art form that originated in French Italian courts. It wasn’t really introduced to people until much later in its history. Even still, there are barriers to participating in dance classes, ”Papazian said.
To break down these barriers, Ballet Arizona launched the Adaptive Dance for Down Syndrome program led by Kay Price.
Thérèse Derivan, whose daughter Samantha has participated for years, was initially skeptical.
“Everyone wants to work on flexibility in these dance classes. People with Down syndrome tend to have very loose joints and poor muscle tone, so they don’t protect their joints, ”said Derivan.
But, after sitting down with Miss Kay, she says her worries have been replaced by confidence.
“Miss Kay knew all about it. She knew everything. She told me that they had already worked with a physiotherapist to find a safe way to work with this special population, ”added Derivan.
Since arriving, she says her daughter has blossomed. Sam auditioned and starred in Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.
Derivan says the biggest gain for Sam is confidence, saying Sam now dances at his school and got his first job as a volunteer dance assistant.
“We feel so comfortable and are just thankful that Ballet Arizona understood the need and then found a creative way to fill it,” said Derivan.
Ballet Arizona is looking to develop adult programs so that dancers can continue beyond adolescence.
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