Ballet class offered to young girls with Down syndrome

Thursday, June 19th 2008, 5:06 pm

By: News 9

By Audrey Esther, INsite Team 

Most little girls dream of becoming a ballerina, but for children with special needs, attending a dance class is not always a possibility; until now.

Inside a small dance studio at the University of Central Oklahoma little girls with Down syndrome have the opportunity to learn and dance with other little girls who are just like them.

"Our kids can do everything the other kids can do, they are just at a much slower pace," said Joni Nelson whose 8-year-old daughter Emily participants in the class.

For about an hour once a week seven girls receive special instruction on the highly technical form of ballet dancing.

Their effort is obvious, but their disability is not.

"We're not working and thinking in terms of limitations. We're trying to work with their abilities and build on that," class instructor and UCO dance lecturer Robyn Pasternack said.

The adaptive ballet class helps the girls developmentally, physically and socially she said. Pasternack started the class primarily for her daughter Haley who also has Down syndrome.

"She got a lot of special training at home from me," Pasternack said of her 8-year-old daughter. "When I felt like she was capable of following my directions that's when I started the class."

Madison Madory, 13, is the oldest student in the class.

"It's fun to dance," Madison said.

While Madison learns fundamental ballet moves her mother waits across the hall with the other parents.

"This ballet class is the first time Madison has taken it onto herself that this is what she enjoys," Madison's mother Angela Madory said." This is her thing and she really loves the class."

The class is good socially for Angela as well. She shares her common experience and concerns with the other parents.

"We can all talk to each other, help each other through things and learn that we're not alone in a lot of things," she said.

All parents agree that it's important for their daughters to socialize with other children who have Down syndrome.

"It's good socially to be around people who accept you," Madory said.

The adaptive ballet class is held once in the summer, spring and fall for six weeks on the UCO campus.


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