“Since Joseph was born I’ve been doing a lot of advocating for my child’s needs. So if there’s one thing I can say about this dance program, it’s that I didn’t have to fight for Joseph to be in the course. They welcomed him with open arms—with his disability.” Patricia Grobe is speaking about a dance class for children and adults with Down syndrome, given at the National Centre for Dance Therapy. Her 9-year-old son Joseph is enrolled in the course. “I don’t have to explain anything to the people giving the class. They understand. It’s nice to feel that they ‘get’ him.”
Joseph takes the class on his own, without his parents, though they can attend demonstration classes and the end-of-the-year performance. When Patricia Grobe went to a demonstration class, she was very impressed with what she saw. “What struck me most was that my son listened. Little boys and girls don’t always listen, which is totally normal… But I noticed that he was able to follow a routine. With regards to the dance moves and music, he was able to do what he was asked to do when he was supposed to do it.”
A child psychologist who has worked with children with disabilities for many years, Patricia Grobe explains that Joseph has a hard time with transitions, with moving from one place to another, so getting him to the dance class can take a little effort. “But once he’s there, he’s always happy to be there, and when he returns home, he’s full of smiles about having gone.”
Recently, Joseph had a special dance experience when Les Grands Ballets picked him to be the Mouse of the Day in The Nutcracker. “He was a very shy ‘mouse’, but the experience was lovely. He went to a rehearsal and went backstage on his own, without us, and he went readily. I was worried about the costume, because he doesn’t like Halloween costumes or masks, and The Nutcracker costumes are quite elaborate. But he put on the mouse helmet and was very excited! He really was thrilled about this whole entire moment.”
The Ballet - Down Syndrome course is a program that has been developed by the National Centre for Dance Therapy. Dedicated to people with Down Symdrome, participants are invited to make use of their creativity, through improvisation, as well as classical and choreographic techniques.