Dance Studio Celebrates 30 Years of Classes For Dancers With Special Needs

Tuesday, April 20th 2021, 5:39 pm
By: Sawyer Buccy

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Miss Shelly’s School of Dance has been teaching free ballet classes for dancers with special needs for more than 30 years.

The owner, Shelly Ledbetter, said it is her way of doing Something Good for some very passionate dancers and she gets back much more in return. 

"Anybody, anybody can dance," said Ledbetter. 

If you ask Miss Shelly what her dance school is all about, she won't talk about her decades of experience; she will tell you this place is all about her dancers.

"We polish and care for and take in everybody. It is much more than dance," said Miss Shelly. 

At 68 years old, Miss Shelly shows up for her classes with a vibrant energy, fully present and focused on her kids. She knows every name and is focused on every one of their stories.

"It is so fun just to be around Miss Shelly. She is such an amazing teacher, and she just makes everybody feel like an amazing dancer even if you are having an off day," said 16-year-old dancer Emily Arlan. 

For 38 years, on the first and third Saturday of every month, Miss Shelly and a couple of her older dancers teach a free class for students with special needs.

"Having her be able to come to a class like this where she is included, and she has her own activities to do- it has just been heartwarming and so worth all of the sacrifices," said dance mom Christina Chavez- her daughter Lauryn is taking the Saturday class. 

"It just brings me so much joy to see the smiles on their faces," said 17-year-old dancer Micaela Atkinson. 

"I am Neurodivergent and could potentially be Autistic, I don't know yet. I found that it is easy to relate to some of, actually a lot of the girls," said 17-year-old dancer Kadi Smith. 

This class reinforces a motto Miss Shelly believes to be true for every one of her dancers.

"It is so much more than tap and ballet and a pirouette and a switch leap. It is that we are all connected. It is celebrating. Somebody loses their tooth, or they had a bad week, or their mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer - we are a family, a dance family and a community," said Miss Shelly. 

For 40 minutes, News On 6’s Sawyer Buccy watched moms and dads dance across the room with their kids, place where everyone was noticed and encouraged, where the dancers had fun.

Ballet shoes aren't one size fits all.

"Everybody can dance," said Miss Shelly.