This is absolutely beautiful.
Ballet for Special Children
CBS NEWS December 23, 2018, 9:31 AM
Ballet is the stuff dreams are made of – the epitome of precision, grace and beauty. What little girl hasn’t dreamed of being up on that stage? Ten-year old Keren Rak-Mehler dreamed of being a ballerina, as she told us, speaking through her computer.
“I love to dance with my walker and learn new ballet moves,” she said.
Keren has quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
“It was way too intimidating to every place that I asked about the dance programs – a, the wheelchair, b, the fact that she’s non-verbal,” said her mother, Iris Mehler. “They couldn’t quite handle the situation.”
Then Iris found a place that could handle the situation, where kids with disabilities of any kind can wear tutus and top hats, and dance.
For the last four years the New York City Ballet has offered a series of workshops for disabled youngsters. Siblings are welcome, too.
“Five minutes before the class, it’s total carnage, but there’s actually a method to the madness that’s going on,” said Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky, who is a specialist in cerebral palsy.
The program came about when a mother of a child with cerebral palsy wrote the New York City Ballet and asked if they’d ever done workshops for children with disabilities. They hadn’t.
The Ballet’s Meghan Gentile reached out to Dr. Dutkowsky to help design such a program.
The key, said Gentile, was “not making this a therapy session, just really giving them the experience to move in a studio with live music, with other dancers.”
Doctor’s orders: no wheelchairs, and no braces.
“A mother came up after our first class and said, ‘I looked over and saw my daughter’s wheelchair, and she wasn’t in it!'” said Dr. Dutkowsky.
“Makes me cry,” said correspondent Lesley Stahl.
“Makes me smile!”
The teachers are New York City Ballet dancers, like soloist Ashley Laracey. “I left my first workshop here feeling that I had to be part of these children’s lives,” she said.
Iris Mehler told Stahl, “You see the two extremes: the people with the most profound control over their movements, the New York City Ballet dancers coming here to teach our children that has zero control, sometimes, over the muscles of their body. There’s something really touching about that. It’s really touching. I’m grateful.”