BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Imagine being a kid who loves to dance only to be denied the opportunity.
Several Capital Region parents say that’s exactly what happened to their special needs children. That was until they discovered a Ballston Spa dance studio where all kinds of kids can experience the joy of dance.
Asher Palleschi is an inquisitive, bright 3-year old. Autism makes it tough for him to communicate; however, his body language speaks volumes when he hears music.
“Autism means nothing when he’s dancing,” says his mom Elyse.
She says she called dance studios within their community of Ballston Spa and inquired about classes for her son.
“I’m very upfront about Asher. I don’t want there to be any surprises. It was absolutely shocking to me how many direct ‘nos’ I got.”
Heather Inness-Brown only heard nos when it came to her daughter as well.
“Just let her dance; that’s all we wanted. We didn’t want special treatment. You just wanted to dance.”
Allison had danced in a special high school program, but after graduating, they only heard excuses from local dance studios.
“That they didn’t feel their studio was suitable for her. And then we actually got an honest answer when they said they were highly competitive and she wouldn’t fit it.”
But Allison is now back doing what she loves!
She got a dance slipper in the door after finally finding acceptance at Spa City Dance and the Arts, the Ballston Spa studio owned by Matt and Lauren Adair.
“Every child should have the opportunity.”
Lauren Adair says many studios focus on competition and less on what dance can do for everyone. The Adairs felt they could offer something that has long been missing with typical dance studios: accepting students with special needs.
“Best to worst, it doesn’t matter. They are all here to dance. And they deserve respect,” says Lauren.
It didn’t take long for other parents of special needs kids like Asher’s mom to hear about the studio as well.
“It was the first time, instead of asking me what my son can’t do, what he can do,” she said.
In September, Spa City Dance and the Arts began accepting students in their new Special Needs Dance program, including kids like Lani, who can now enjoy a more relaxed program from dancers with all levels of ability.
“When I came to the studio, they made me feel like it’s home. Because sometimes she’s having a moment, she’s upset. They’re like, ‘It’s fine, don’t worry about it,’” said Lani’s mom.
Elyse added, “I think every single child that wants to dance should be allowed to dance. I see this growing. And I hope more businesses take Matt and Lauren’s lead on starting to open their schools to the possibility of different children coming in.”