Weekly Feature



2011-11-17 / Lifestyles

Moves, music and motivation

Dance group taps into new studio
by JOLENE ZANGHI
Reporter


Christine Kwiatkowski, co-founder of Danceability, leads a class at its new location in the Tops-George Urban Plaza on Union Road in Cheektowaga. The organization has grown since its inception in 2007 and is now the dance center for more than 100 students with special needs. 
Photos by Scott Schild. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Christine Kwiatkowski, co-founder of Danceability, leads a class at its new location in the Tops-George Urban Plaza on Union Road in Cheektowaga. The organization has grown since its inception in 2007 and is now the dance center for more than 100 students with special needs. Photos by Scott Schild. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Kristine Kwiatkowski stood before several students on a new, state-of-the-art sprung floor and swayed her arms back and forth.

“Let’s get those arms in there,” she said as she glanced in the mirror at the reflections of the young women standing behind her. “Good job.”

Kwiatkowski, co-founder, co-director and co-instructor for Danceability Inc., continued giving positive reinforcement to her dancers, all of whom had smiles on their faces as they moved to the music.

Since its inception in 2007, the nonprofit business has been a weekly therapeutic dancing hub for individuals with special needs and has grown into an established program that promotes physical, social and emotional well-being. On Nov. 4, Danceability hosted a grand opening event to celebrate the expansion and introduce its new facility on Union Road in the Tops-George Urban Plaza in Cheektowaga. Visitors had the opportunity to take tours and meet with representatives involved with the program. Student performances also took place, giving visitors a sense of all the program has to offer.


Volunteer Kaitlyn Mongiovi, right, of Cheektowaga, assists Sarah Bojanowski of Williamsville during a class at Danceability. Volunteer Kaitlyn Mongiovi, right, of Cheektowaga, assists Sarah Bojanowski of Williamsville during a class at Danceability. Robin Bishop, Kwiatkowski’s business partner, said she’s happy the program has expanded into a new facility. Before the move, it was housed in another Union Road location that proved inadequate. “We started with 60 students, and this year we are up to 108,” Bishop said. “Last year, we were at a point where we couldn’t take anyone else in our space, so when our lease was up, we decided to move. It was risky, but so far it’s been pretty good.”

The new establishment includes two studios; the larger one is used for more mainstream dance, whereas the smaller, more enclosed space is what Bishop calls the “sensory studio.” She noted that the organization is still researching various grant options to help fund additional elements that Danceability would still like to see go into the designated space. For now, Bishop said the sensory studio allows the teachers to “control the elements,” as many of the students either thrive or respond negatively to factors such as open spaces, light or their reflection in the mirrors.

Keeping the space more confined and controlled, with the help of sensory props such as physio balls and bubble lamps, helps the dance instructors learn more about each student and his or her learning preferences, Bishop said.

Students, both male and female, range in age from 3 to older than 60, and the classes are structured based on age and ability.

For Kwiatkowski, who’s also a special education teacher at Kenmore West High School, witnessing a student’s transformation is golden.

“I love watching the progress based on the love of dance and creativity I’m able to show them,” she said.

The 45-minute class sessions are very specific and aimed at helping each individual. Dozens of volunteers from area high schools and colleges donate their time to work with students in the studio, allowing them to have the one-on-one contact they may need to succeed.

Bishop said the majority of the classes offered at Danceability teach its participants different dance forms such as tap, jazz, ballet and creative movement.

Danceability is also home to a monthly exercise class for the Parkinson’s Wellness Group of Western New York, program that helps people with the disease remain healthy and active for as long as possible.

The organization holds its annual recital annually during Mother’s Day weekend in May at Cleveland Hill High School, a time where friends and relatives can come to support their loved ones.

“People are so appreciative that there are options to offer their children and family members,” Bishop said. “The students get a great sense of self-esteem, endurance and pride.”

For more information on the group, visit www.danceabilityinc.com or call 651-0094.

email: jolenez@beenews.com

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