New program to introduce dance to students with special needs

Serving the area since 2014, Dance It Out studio in La Crosse is preparing to offer an innovative new program for students with special needs that will be completely free for participants.
The program, titled Rhythm Works, is an integrative hip-hop dance class geared toward children and others with physical limitations, learning differences and other disabilities, such as autism, down syndrome and sensory processing disorder.
“We sincerely believe that dance should be all-inclusive,” said Michelle Harris, who will be teaching the class alongside Alicia Washburn. The pair, who co-own Dance It Out, have been offering dance instruction together since 2012.
“We hope through our new class we will be able to bring dance to people who may not have considered taking dance classes before,” added Harris.
Harris said teaching a class of this sort is something she and Washburn always hoped they would be able to do.
“This is an interest we have had for a while,” she said. “We see the benefits of dance everyday, and our dream is to make training accessible to everyone. We had heard about this program at various conventions we have attended and were excited to be able to pursue the certification when the opportunity arose.”
Harris and Washburn both went through a certification process in order to better understand teaching dance to children with special needs.
With this class, the pair hopes to “help participants with existing therapy goals or just make everyday tasks a little easier.”
Rhythm Works, which will begin on Feb. 3, will offer a variety of activities individually tailored for each student, including rhythm exercises, warm ups, games and dance choreography.
“Through dance we hope to improve motor skills, body control, coordination, streng, social skills, focus and more,” Harris said.
There are no age or other limitations for the classes.
“We accept all ages,” Harris said proudly, adding that as interest grows in the classes, age groups may be split into different classes.
These classes, which are currently operating on a strict donations-only basis, will be offered in the evenings from 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
If you wish to sign up, you can contact Dance It Out by calling (434) 757-1029, emailing danceitoutstudios@gmail.com, or by stopping by their location at 124 Main Street in La Crosse.
Prior to enrolling in the classes, a brief meeting with the teachers is suggested.
“We like to set up a meeting time to meet the parents and student, and we also have some registration information to fill out,” Harris said of preparing to join the class.
Dance It Out also offers a variety of other dance classes and has just introduced new six-week beginner classes for those who want to “try” dance. Ages eligible for the class include 18 months through adult.
“We have something for everyone!” Harris said. “We also offer gymnastics at our Flip It Out location.”
For more information regarding Dance it Out, visit them on Facebook or check out their website, www.danceitoutva.com.