Dancers With Cerebral Palsy

In a studio not far from the city of Washington D.C. comes a truly heartwarming tale. In Silver Springs, Maryland lies the Maryland Youth Ballet studio, a nonprofit organization that teaches dance and has been extremely successful in its education, receiving various rewards for their students’ performances. However, there is one dance troupe who will never take the stage and whose teachers will never receive awards from the city for their accomplishments. These teachers receive a far greater gift by giving physically disabled children (such as those with cerebral palsy) ages four to ten the opportunity to dance. Although they have little muscle coordination and their dancing feat would seem impossible, through the efforts of Jennifer Cox and Rebecca Leonard these dreams are a reality. Students each have a volunteer to assist them, while they are strapped into a harness and suspended from the ceiling. Then, live piano music allows them to “feel” the beat as they are led through the dance music and allowed their own free movement in the harness. According to Leonard, “The most recent research in physical therapy indicates that partial weight bearing therapy is among the most promising in developing large motor skills,” and there are many physical and mental benefits that exceed traditional therapies” (Fonseca). Even without these benefits, less focus should be spent on the impossibilities of the child’s situation and more focus should be spent on enriching the lives of these physically disabled children through movement and music.

Created By: Jessica Sweeney

Dolan, Rachel Leigh. “Dancing from the Heart.” Dance Magazine, June 2007: Vol. 81
Issue 6, p22-23.
Fonseca, Tensia and Less, Michelle. “Music and Motion.” 2004. Maryland Youth Ballet.
17 July 2007