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The cornerstone of our Inclusive Programming, Tour de Force is a multi-level program allowing more children with a range of abilities to try ballet for the first time. Together, with our Company and MBII dancers and the help of Children’s Hospital physical therapists, we have seen how ballet can transform young lives.
To inquire about the program, please contact Community Engagement at [email protected]
LES PETITES (THE LITTLES):
This class consists of children with very involved needs. They are dependent for cares and transfers. They may or may not have head control. This is a slow movement or stretching class, and children are paired with a physical or occupational therapist, and a dancer from the Milwaukee Ballet. Class is conducted out of the child’s wheelchair with the use of floor mats, wedges, benches or bolsters to achieve the appropriate alignment and comfort for the child while addressing the goals of the class.
LES ÉLÈVES (THE STUDENTS):
Students stretch and learn the basics of ballet both on the floor and at the barre. These children must have head control, but may require use of wheelchairs, walkers or crutches for mobility aides. They may require Orthotics and it is up to the child if they would like to wear them during class. These children are paired with a physical or occupational therapist or a therapy student, as well as a dancer from the Milwaukee Ballet, based on their needs.
LES SUJETS (THE SOLOISTS):
This class is for students who are independent walkers. They may use braces/Orthotics to aid in their walking or require a hand held for higher level balance tasks. These children learn ballet stretches, and do both work at the barre and center or across the room. They are paired with another child in the class and a helper. Helpers in the class are either therapy students or our dancers. One physical or occupational therapist is also present at each class to provide assistance as necessary.
GLISSADES (THE GLIDERS):
This class is for students who use a wheelchair as a primary means of mobility. They are able to move their wheelchair on their own and are interested in learning dance moves while remaining sitting in their chair. Children should be open and willing to try new things. One physical or occupational therapist will be present in the class to provide assistance to the dance instructor as necessary.
The program was the brainchild of Dr. Maya Evans, MD, Director of Pediatrics, Physical Medicine & Rehab at Children’s Hospital. We imagined if these children who have a range of disabilities could see that dancers have a very strict training regimen, and they weren’t the only ones in the world who had to push their bodies on a daily basis, they would be motivated to stretch and do their exercises more often.
The benefits are far greater and the rewards much bigger than we ever imagined. These children are doing ballet, stretching, growing and changing!
Diane Feldt, a physical therapist for Children’s Hospital and mother of an eight-year-old daughter in the program, said, “When Anna actively flexed her knees and performed a plié, I cried tears of joy. She ‘got’ it. It is nothing short of amazing.”
Our dancers are inspired to keep pushing themselves as they see their ballet buddies making weekly progress – lifting their torsos, responding to touch and direction, standing in “relevé,” walking, jumping, and holding their arms in fifth position with less assistance or none at all.
We are grateful for support from the Heil Family Foundation to make Tour de Force possible.