“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist born in 1928. She was an inspirational woman, and worked tirelessly to educate others on the importance of valuing human diversity. Her words ring so true to me! At Diakosmos Dance Academy, we embrace diversity, and we witness this beauty and strength she speaks of…
Over 15 years ago, a parent approached me, asking if I would start a dance class for children with special needs, to accommodate her daughter. This was a true gift. At the time I had no idea it was going to change my life as it has, and open my mind to how many people out there love to dance and really desire the opportunity to learn dance. Soon after, a group of girls with a range of abilities started dancing with me. As I am not a dance therapist, the challenge for me was to teach a dance class that would reach children of all abilities and backgrounds, including students with Down Syndrome, on the Autism Spectrum, and other additional needs. I soon learned that teaching these students would come quite easily to me. The reason why is simple- they were enthusiastic, eager, passionate, and they loved to dance.
This is one of the special aspects of our school. We are not dance therapists, but we are dance teachers who work with all students who have a desire to dance. No matter where they are at in their dance ability, we see their potential, we meet them where they are at, and we encourage them to achieve goals and individual success by teaching them real dance skills. The exciting part is watching them grow as dancers, and people, in this journey.
Diversity is not just about disability.. it is important to remember that we are all diverse in our own ways. We are proud that our student body at Diakosmos is so unique and varied. Diakosmos is home to every student, no matter their background, skills or personality. Our focus is on their passion for the performing arts, and meeting their learning needs. In our wide variety of programs on offer, we accommodate for all! There is but one thing we expect from our students- a love of dance.
Our students do truly love to dance, and to share this love with one another. Throughout my whole life, dance has been my deepest passion too. When I dance, choreograph, and teach, I feel that I am connected to my true self, in the safest place I can be, at the core of who I am. It is at this point, that I really connect with all my students, regardless of ability, as we all share this deeper passion, and we connect on that level.
I have a great belief that dance and the performing arts enhances people’s lives in many ways, both physically and mentally. Throughout the struggles of my own life, I feel that dance gave me a way of finding myself, and experiencing joy. My wish for these children is that dance also helps them to find joy, and gives them the feeling of freedom that dance brings through self expression and physical and emotional creativity! It is such a pleasure to share this joy of dance with them.
Dance from the heart!
Dianne De Battista