Just Like You – She Can Dance!

“Just Like Some of You- She Can Dance” would be a more appropriate title for today’s blog.  I am not a dancer. In fact to illustrate my lacking dance abilities, I have a Rachel story. Her dance recital was Saturday. I was a stage mom so I helped in the dressing room and backstage. This is a comical idea in the first place but I will not digress.  I was showing the girls ‘my moves” in the dressing room (trying to calm their nervousness and backstage boredom). My daughter looked at me and said, “Mommy, please stop you are embarrassing me in front of my friends.”  She was right. It was embarrassing.  Her daddy has a few moves but nothing like Rachel.

She love to dance!
She love to dance!

Like most parents, we are self-proclaimed prejudiced when it comes to our daughter. I can tell you her smile lights up the room, her stage presence is amazing and her love for life radiates from a stage.  I’m her mom, and I am supposed to say that.

Mom's favorite costume from 2008
Mom’s favorite costume from 2008

The seven people who sought Rachel and me out on Saturday didn’t know us. As far as I know I had not met them or for that matter, I don’t think I’d seen them before. The comments were consistent, “Your daughter is amazing. She was my favorite part of the recital. My eyes were just drawn to her and her smile. It is evident that she is having fun.”  The studio owner told me several times through the course of the practices and recital how proud she was of Rachel’s dancing and “her smile and stage presence.  Oh my.”  I don’t think it is just our interpretation. I think God has gifted Rachel. Yes, the same God who allowed her to have Down syndrome has gifted her with this smile and stage presence. Dr. Rud Turnbull, founder of KU’s Beach Center on Families and Disability, met her on Saturday and he said, “She is charming!”  That about sums it up.

Captures Rachel.
Captures Rachel.

Kudos to the girls in Rachel’s dance class too. Rachel has an aversion to heights. For the first half of the show, they were allowed to sit in the balcony and watch the show. The balcony was up there.  She told me that she didn’t want to go.  One of the girls heard her and came to her (with no adult prodding) and said, “Rachel, you can sit by me and I’ll help you if you get scared.”  Rachel consented and sat by this young lady and I watched as she checked on her ever so often to make sure she was okay. Remember my mantra about the power of inclusion? Inclusion does more for the non-disabled that those with disabilities.

Early dance recital with one of the big girls.
Early dance recital with one of the big girls.

I mentioned in a blog last week that to whom much is given much shall be expected. As I have worked with students over the years I often say, “God has gifted you in unique ways.  Use those gifts wisely.”  That is what I want for Rachel, too. God has gifted her.   To Rachel she’s just doing life and the things she loves, but she is an ambassador for individuals with Down syndrome.  That’s a big job but I think she’s up to it.

Rachel's friend Olivia.
Rachel’s friend Olivia.

Since we’re on the subject of “Just Like You”, do you remember our little video “Just Like You – Down Syndrome?”  Well, it has been translated into Spanish. It is making an impact everywhere it is seen.  It is almost to 100,000 unique hits. Share it with a friend and help push us over and show the world the power of inclusion because people with Down syndrome are “Just Like You!”

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  1. Are those tap dance shoes I see her wearing? If so, how did that go? It’s Dana’s first year in dance. I don’t have the moves either, but I like grooving to a beat. Does she pick out what classes she wants to take?

  2. Some of these pictures are from several years ago, and yes those are tap shoes. She started in ballet at age 4. Then she took tap/ballet for three years, tap/ballet/jazz for three years. Then, she took off a year and took a tap/ballet/jazz combo class. This year she took hip-hop. She also takes some musical theater dance at CYT. The tap has been very basic and she was fine with it. I would like her to have private tap lessons for the footwork. Remember a smile and having fun covers a multitude of sins!We discuss the classes and decide together with input from the teachers on what class she should take. We’ve been fortunate that the studios she has attended have been very open and understanding. And it is GREAT exercise!

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