Limitless

It all starts with the power of believing….believing in yourself, believing in others, and believing in possibilities. Where others may see limitations or make excuses, our Dance Ability program envisions possibilities and believes in working together to achieve everyone’s greatest potential.

I’ve mentioned this group before…but if you haven’t checked them out, you need to look into the Ill-Abilities Crew from Quebec and learn more about what they are doing in terms of dance! http://illabilities.com/media/video/    I think this crew is a true inspiration, especially for our Dance Ability dancers who definitely exemplify the power of “no excuses, no limits”.

When you choose to DO more, you BECOME more, and that allows you to BE who you are. (All of my OT friends will understand this!)

This year, we are thrilled to have our first ever ALL BOYS HIP HOP class. This class has seven boys, between the ages of 5-10, who are full of energy and who love to dance; it’s our very own “ill abilities crew”.

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I’ll be honest, the first class, I wasn’t sure our new volunteers would be able to keep up with this crew! But sure enough, this new group of volunteers quickly stepped up to keep up with the enthusiasm of these hip hoppers. It’s been an exciting journey thus far, with so many unique super powers in this class, I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and excitement of creating a hip hop class that meets everyone’s needs and showcases what everyone can do. With boys who use canes or walkers, to boys who find it hard to stay in one place….from boys who love to rock out to loud top 40 beats and others who thrive on more controlled and predictable music….we’ve found a way to bring out the superhero in each one.  There’s one other thing that this group has in common, and that is their INCREDIBLE moms and dads!

I still remember the first class…parents bringing their boys in, arriving at somewhat different times (coming from out of town too!), trying to get everyone settled and comfortable in the big studio with wall to wall mirrors! These boys were so excited (and some nervous), we never actually formed a circle (or formation of any sort) that first class….there was no organized introduction …. we just kept the music going and got everyone moving and comfortable in the new environment and with each other. What this really looked like? A LOT of looking in the mirrors, making funny faces, some laying on the floor, lots of running, jumping, and more freestyle “interpretive” dancing than anything else. I remember at one point, one of the boys asking “when are we going to start the REAL hip hop?” (he obviously knew I was not teaching him any new moves yet…just trying to get some order in the studio! When I asked him what kind of music he listened to his response was “Blurred Lines”…he’s five). I am sure to an outside eye it did not look very organized whatsoever….but the minute I opened the door to let the boys out…there they were, a group of smiling, overjoyed parents applauding their boys and celebrating their first dance class with us.

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I’m telling you, I have never met a group of more inspiring, committed and wonderful parents of young boys! These parents have provided their boys with a very unique experience, which I believe has given them an incredible foundation for self-confidence and self-expression in life. What an incredible gift.

Every week we have learned more and more about this group, through the feedback and support of parents we have developed the skills to bring out the best in everyone. It really is a team approach and it takes the power of seeing the potential and believing that everyone CAN dance to achieve that. And boy do these parents SEE it! These boys are so blessed to have parents who care enough to sign them up for a dance class, to drive them to the studio (through snow and all!) every Saturday, AND to follow through and discipline them if needed to ensure that they are participating to the best of their abilities. And of course, these parents know how to celebrate success and focus on what their kids CAN do. (Oh and did you notice their awesome hip hop suits too!?).

The feedback from parents has been so motivating. They continually thank us for the class and for creating an environment where their boys are not only accepted and welcomed, but celebrated. They appreciate the volunteers’ dedication every weekend and the excellent role models these (male and female) volunteers have been for their kids. We even have a “peer” volunteer, a competitive dancer from our studio who loves grooving with the boys. It has worked out so well because she can really keep the attention of the boys because she is a friend and peer who is at their level. It’s so important to have families involved in their children’s lives because they know their child best and can really give the most helpful information to myself and the volunteers. We need to know when a student is actually physically tired and needs a break versus someone who likes to pull a “Spaghetti move” as one dad called it but is capable of more.  “You need to MAKE him do it, don’t be afraid to be very directive and use your hands to move his hands and feet so he can learn the movements”….”Make sure you give him direction and follow through, he CAN do it, and will do best if he knows he must do what the teacher is doing”…having parents tell us this gives us the confidence to know that they trust us with what we are doing and we can all work together with the child’s best interest at heart.

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It’s impossible for me to put into words the energy of this class. These boys have come SO far; peeking in the window now you would never have known it was the same boys in the class that first Saturday only four months ago.  We’ve learned how the boys move, communicate, and learn ….we’ve gelled as a group and are working on our recital performance (Superheros of course!).

The most motivating thing to hear is when families tell us that they have been a part of many programs, and out of all of them, Dance Ability is very well organized, their kids love it, and they appreciate our genuine interest and ability to create an environment that celebrates the uniqueness of each child.

Too often in our society, people think that “dance class” isn’t for boys, and many boys may never be given such an opportunity. I would invite anyone to come watch our boys perform for five minutes…and I guarantee they would have a change of heart. I know the dads in our boys class were amazed watching their kids’ inner B-BOYS come out in the studio. Every child deserves equal opportunities, but sometimes “equal” also means changing the “environment” to fit the student. It’s challenging to hear about students who have been “politely asked to leave” a class because they were not able to pay attention as well as their peers. We feel very blessed to be able to offer something different.

Wow! Who would have thought a boys hip hop class would mean so much to so many people. I know I sure can’t wait to see this crew on stage, and to have our audience wowed by these dancers who have no limits!

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4 Responses to Limitless

  1. Leah says:

    Wow Mal!! What a great post! You really captured the beauty of this class and of the passion, dedication, and determination of those superheroes. I could not agree anymore – the parents are beyond incredible and give us the confidence to keep doing what we are doing!

  2. Liza says:

    Mallory, Jade and ALL of the volunteers,

    What you have provided for each and every boy in your studio is nothing short of amazing! As parents, we have been beyond impressed with your efforts, commitment, compassion, and foresight. To have such young professionals with such a handle on what is truly important when serving children with special needs is truly incredible. Your vision is inspiring and well beyond your years. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making such a significant difference in our lives and the lives of our children. You are trailblazers and I am so proud to be associated with your amazing organization 🙂

  3. Elaine says:

    Love seeing the boys dancing!!!

  4. Kim says:

    Beautiful post. It is so amazing to see these boys having fun being part of a group and doing something they love.

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