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Classical 101

Ballet for All Kids Gives Children with Disabilities a Chance to Dance

"Dance as though no one is watching" is a familiar encouragement to lower your inhibitions and let the music move you. But what if you can't even take two steps without tumbling to the ground?

Such was the case for Sarah Hansen, who, because of a progressive neurological disease, could barely put one foot in front of the other without support.

In a recent USA Today story, Bonnie Schlachte—a classically trained ballerina who also holds a degree in psychology—painted a grim picture, recalling when Sarah first started at her ballet studio:

“She couldn’t walk across the room without holding on to something,” recalls Schlachte. “She would immediately fall.”

The inspiration for Ballet for All Kids, a nonprofit organization geared toward helping kids with disabilities learn dance, came from Schlachte's desire for her daughter and others to learn to share her love of the arts. While her daughter had no disabilities, Schlachte wanted every child to have the opportunity to dance, so searched for dance classes or programs for children with disabilities.

She found none, so she started Ballet for All Kids, which now has studio locations in Los Angeles, New York and Virginia.

Ballet for All Kids would not only completely change Schlachte's life, but Sarah's, as well. As early as kindergarten, Sarah was determined that "she was going to be a Sugar Plum Fairy" someday.


Schlachte and Ballet for Kids helped Sarah and many others reach their goals.