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Dance is making its way to special needs children, adults

By Kim Wooten, Staff Reporter
Published on Monday, November 30, 2015

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Kelsey Crum and Alysa Amato Photos

"All I Want for Christmas is You" is being rehearsed by the Carolina Dance Collaborative (CDC).

 



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Co-founder Alysa Amato warms up the students.
 

Kelsey Crum and Alysa Amato Photos

Co-founder Alysa Amato warms up the students.

 



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Co-founder Kelsey Crum teaches the students a flash mob dance they will perform Saturday at the Fountain Inn Christmas Festival.
 

Kelsey Crum and Alysa Amato Photos

Co-founder Kelsey Crum teaches the students a flash mob dance they will perform Saturday at the Fountain Inn Christmas Festival.

 



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The grapevine is practiced at the CDC in an all-inclusive dance program that offers classes for those with disabilities.
 

Kelsey Crum and Alysa Amato Photos

The grapevine is practiced at the CDC in an all-inclusive dance program that offers classes for those with disabilities.

 



Dance is making its way to children and adults with special needs in the community.

Carolina Dance Collaborative is a mobile dance outreach program that was founded in the spring.  CDC is an all-inclusive dance program that offers classes for those with disabilities and an Adaptive Christmas Flash Mob.

“Part of Carolina Dance Collaborative foundational beliefs is that all people have the ability to dance and should have access to dance,” Kelsey Crum, co-founder, said in an email interview.

“We are a part of Greenville CAN's Having Fun group and understood that no one else was providing creative dance classes in the Greenville community for individuals with special needs and disabilities. We saw a need that magically lined up with a community of people we wanted to reach,” Crum stated.

The Connect class for special needs students is held at the Meyer Center on Saturday mornings. Each class is an hour and runs from September through May ending with a May 21 recital at the Mauldin Cultural Center.

Space is available with tuition $45 monthly. Scholarships are available.

The Barbara Stone Foundation, with a matching grant from the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs Board, awarded CDC with full-and half-scholarships for both Connect and the Adaptive Christmas Flash Mob.

“Connect follows the same format for all of our lessons – warm-up, introduce and use the concept going across the floor or working on technique, and then involve a creative element of choreography,” co-founder Alysa Amato, stated. “However, we want Connect to be more expressive and less about making the students look a certain way.”

Olivia Bezemer, 7, who has autism, attention deficit disorder, and a developmental delay, enjoys being in the Connect class and being herself. She is able and is encouraged to express herself in her own way.

“Nobody judges her, and nobody comments when she once in a while wants to run to me to just give me a hug,” Margo Bezemer, her mother, stated.

Crum and Amato, the program’s dance instructors, “accepts Olivia for who she is and they treat her with so much love, respect and patience,” Bezemer stated. “We love Kelsey and Alyson, we admire them for what they can accomplish with all the students and how they let every student participate, even if the students sometimes are a bit carried away.”

Amy Hallasy also has a daughter, Meredith, 19, who also attends the class. She has mild Cerebral palsy and autism.

“As a mom, I just enjoy seeing her excitement,” Amy stated. “I also enjoy seeing her progress.  I don’t have to explain anything to anyone.  She gets to be Meredith.  I love watching her come out of her shell and become more confident and open each week.”

Meredith is also participating in the Adaptive Christmas Flash Mob and her mother is a volunteer.

The flash mob will be at the Fountain Inn Christmas Festival on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 6:15 p.m.

“Greenville CAN’s ‘Having Fun Group’ mentioned that there was a need for annual events, of which a flash mob was listed. We wanted to create an event unlike any other where the disabilities community could be active in the Upstate,” Hallasy stated.

“We knew that it could be done and knew that involving the joys of the holidays would be something unforgettable for those involved. With much brainstorming and trial and error, the Adaptive Christmas Flash Mob was born.

“We get to expose our community to the abilities of people with disabilities.  I think the performance wows the community, and makes people smile. What better way is there to spread Christmas cheer,” Hallasy stated.

 

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