Where it all began...
Owner and director, Kellie Lightfoot, started incorporating dance into her pediatric physical therapy practice over 15 years ago. She found that she was able to work on balance, strengthening, coordination, endurance, and so much more, while making it fun by including aspects of dance into the training. (to a 4 year old, a traditional "squat" exercise might be boring - but wear a tutu and call it a plie?!? SO FUN!). With the help of Akron Children's Hospital, Kellie created an adaptive dance program that included weekly classes, performances, and recital opportunities.
Designed and lead by a pediatric physical therapist, our programming incorporate various physical, occupational, and speech therapy techniques (but don't worry... it won't feel like therapy!). We also use various adaptive equipment including visual schedule charts, adaptive grips for pom poms, ribbon wands, and shakers, and noise cancelling headphones are available. We also are mindful of sensory issues when choosing costuming.
Dancers can participate independently or with a partner. Students can choose if they want to participate in class using an adaptive device (wheelchair, stander, etc) or they can also participate with an assistant if needed. (For example, we have students who like to participate in some activities from their wheelchair then stand with assistance for other activities). We encourage siblings or friends to participate in class at no additional charge. We also often have peers from the dance studio participate in classes and assist when needed. Parents are welcome to assist their child during class.
Part of the fun is getting to show off for family and friends! We welcome guests to observe class and cheer on their dancer! We have a comfortable lobby space with large viewing windows so you won't miss a count!
Classes & Opportunities
Inspirations Creative Movement
Ages 3-9 (suggested)
Class includes fun dance games and activities and learning basic adaptive dance technique. Students will learn a simple routine and have the opportunity to perform in our annual Dance Showcase in June. Dancers can participate independently or with a "Dance Partner" to assist them. This class is perfect for students who want to move, jump, and dance!
Inspirations Combo Class
The Inspirations Combo class includes learning basic dance technique for Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, and Contemporary dance styles. Classes incorporate fun dance activities, learning dance techniques, and learning various dance combinations and routines. Dancers can participate independently or with a Dance Partner for assistance if needed. Students have the opportunity to participate in our annual Dance Showcase. This class is perfect for students who want to learn adaptive dance technique and styles in a traditional dance class setting.
Inspirations Performance Team
Dancers in our Inspirations program have the opportunity to be a part of our Club Converge Performance Teams! Club Converge is designed to foster a love of dance and performing while providing a supportive and inclusive team environment for all students. In addition to their weekly dance class, students on team will have a weekly Inspirations Team Rehearsal. Dancers will perform at 2-3 community events and 1 local dance competition each season.
Benefits of Dance
Our Inspirations Dance Program offers a wide range of benefits that contribute to physical, cognitive, and social development. Here are some of the key benefits:
Our classes are designed to help students improve strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, overall motor skills, and endurance. Dance movements are tailored to individual abilities, encouraging dancers to explore their physical potential in a safe and supportive environment. Exercise has never been so fun!
Learning dance routines involves memory, sequencing, and pattern recognition. This can enhance cognitive skills such as memory retention, attention to detail, and problem-solving abilities. We use visual calendars, charts, and pictures to reinforce concepts.
Our classes allow dancers to interact with their peers in a structured and inclusive setting. Through group activities and partnered dancers, they can develop social skills such as turn-taking, cooperation, sharing, and respecting personal space.
Our adaptive dance classes incorporate music, rhythm, and non-verbal cues. Engaging with these elements can help children improve their communication skills, including interpreting non-verbal cues and responding to auditory stimuli.
Our students experience a sense of accomplishment and improved self-confidence. The positive feedback from instructors, peers, and audiences can boost their self-esteem and help them develop a positive self-image. Dancers can't help but feel great when there is an audience applauding for them like the rock stars they are!
Dance is a powerful form of self-expression. Children with special needs may face challenges in verbal communication, but through dance, they can express their emotions, thoughts, and creativity in a non-verbal manner. This can enhance their emotional well-being and self-esteem.
Many children with special needs have sensory processing challenges. Dance engages multiple senses, including touch, sight, sound, and movement. This sensory integration can have a calming and organizing effect, helping children regulate their sensory experiences. We have noise canceling headphones for students benefit from reduced noise during class. We also choose costuming wisely keeping sensory issues in mind.
Regular participation in dance can contribute to improved cardiovascular health, muscle tone, and overall fitness. The enjoyable and rhythmic nature of dance encourages kids to engage in physical activity without feeling like it's a chore. Those dreaded home exercise programs are a thing of the past.
Creativity and Imagination
Dance encourages children to use their imagination and creativity to create movements and tell stories through their bodies. This stimulates their artistic abilities and allows them to explore their creative side.
Dance is a fun and enjoyable outlet for stress and anxiety. The physical activity and rhythmic movement can release endorphins, promoting feelings of relaxation and happiness. Class also becomes a positive experience that students look forward to each week.
We love to involve family members and friends in the learning process. This creates opportunities for bonding, as well as a platform for parents, caregivers, or friends to learn how to support the dancer's physical and emotional needs.
Inclusion & Acceptance
Our program fosters an environment of inclusion and acceptance. Children with special needs can interact with peers, promoting understanding and breaking down social barriers. We invite friends and siblings to participate in class at no additional cost!
Click below to view class times and openings and register for our Inspirations adaptive dance classes. If you have any questions, just reach out to us at Info@ConvergePAC.com and we will be happy to help!