Rockettes’ Pick for Dancer of the Week: The Dancers of ‘A Chance To Dance’

Who: The Dancers of ‘A Chance to Dance’ in Charlotte, North Carolina

Their dance:

When kids with special needs get 'A Chance To Dance,' just wat…

WATCH: One mom couldn’t find a dance class that would accept her daughter. So she started ‘A Chance To Dance’ for kids with special needs… she never dreamed of how far they’d go.

Posted by Today Show on Monday, April 10, 2017

Why we chose them: When Kim Smith couldn’t find a dance class for her 7-year-old daughter Reagan, who has autism, she did something amazing: She created a space to teach dance to children with special needs.

In summer 2015, Kim started A Chance to Dance—a program based on the idea that every child, regardless of ability, should be able to experience the joy of dance.

“Dance is a way they can communicate; and it doesn’t require a voice,” Kim tells TODAY. “A lot of our kids are non-verbal and they can communicate by connecting to the music and movement without ever having to say a word.”

Her first class had just seven students, but today, Kim and a crew of 10 volunteers teach more than 30 students with conditions including autism, Down syndrome, blindness, achondroplasia (a form of short-limbed dwarfism), lower leg amputations, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. And no matter what disability the child may have, Kim modifies the dance style to meet their needs. At A Chance to Dance, everyone is included.

For 6-year-old dancer Sophia Grace—who lives with tuberous sclerosis (a rare genetic disease that causes noncancerous tumors to grow in many parts of the body), epilepsy, autism and ADHD—it’s the highlight of her week. And 8-year-old Ava, a cheerful dancer diagnosed with a form of dwarfism, says the dance class “makes her feel extremely happy, and big!”

“I just want to give them the opportunity to let them shine,” Kim tells TODAY. “I would like for people to see their faces, watch their videos, see them dance, and see the possibilities, not the disability.”

Fun fact: This spring, A Chance to Dance’s competition squad (which includes little Sophia, Reagan and Ava!) is going to be performing a tap dance routine to “Singin’ in the Rain” at two competitions!

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