“Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself,” noted psychologist, Havelock Ellis once said. Toledo Ballet’s Adaptive Dance Program caters to children and young adults with typical, special needs, and Down Syndrome, allowing them to experience musical joy and express themselves through movement. “Students with Down Syndrome and other like levels of ability and interest, experience the sheer joy of movement and music. The program’s benefits include improving muscle tone, developing motor skills and balance, appreciating music and rhythm and using these skills to direct body movement, and developing emotional well-being and social skills,” says Ann Heckler, teacher of the program.
Ann Heckler has taught classical ballet for more than 30 years. She had always wanted to develop a dance program for children with special needs, so she started the Adaptive Dance program in 2009, gaining inspiration from an existing program at The Boston Ballet. The Adaptive Dance Troupe of the Toledo Ballet performs annually at the Toledo Ballet Showcase, Sunset Communities, and various other invitations at local events. Financial scholarships are available thanks to a generous grant from the Gretchen Gotthart Skeldon Foundation.