Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class featured in Colorado Ballet’s Spring Academy Showcase Sunday, May 20, 2012

DENVER – On Sunday, May 20, 2012, twenty students from the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class will participate in Colorado Ballet’s Spring Academy Showcase. This marks the first year students with Down syndrome will be included in the comprehensive performance alongside students from Colorado Ballet’s other programs and classes. The Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class is a collaborative program between Colorado Ballet, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

The Spring Academy Showcase begins at 4:00 pm at South High School, 1700 E. Louisiana Ave., Denver, 80210.  At 4:30 pm, both Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Classes – Class I, for students aged 5-8, and Class II, for students aged 6-13 – will perform a piece choreographed by Colorado Ballet instructor Rebecca Jacobson titled “Fancy Free.”

“While the Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Dance Class is a safe place for kids with Down syndrome to learn,” said Global Down Syndrome Foundation Executive Director Michelle Sie Whitten, “the ultimate goal is to provide them choice based on their comfort level – the choice to stay with this class AND to participate in any dance class. We expect that students in our classes will be confident enough to be dancing with their typical peers.”

“I see our role as instilling a lifelong love of dance and movement in each student that clearly benefits their physical well-being ideally for life,” said Patricia C. Winders, world-renowned senior physical therapist at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado and co-creator of the classes.

In addition to Patricia C. Winders, the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Classes are taught by physical therapy student Sarah Mann and two dance instructors – Rebecca Jacobson and Colorado Ballet Company Ballerina Sally Turkel. During the 10 weeks of classes, students receive plenty of individual attention and work on physical stamina, verbalization skills, following directions, and coordinated interaction. They also learn ballet movement, music appreciation, rhythm and basic dance steps.

Each calendar year there are four Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Classes serving children ages 5-9 and 10-14. The classes run one day a week for ten consecutive weeks at the Colorado Ballet. Each class culminates with a recital for approximately 100 family members and friends where the students show off their skills and their self-confidence.

“This year’s recital being included in the Colorado Ballet Spring Academy Showcase is an exciting embodiment of the Be Beautiful Be Yourself philosophy of inclusion,” said Sandy Wolf of the Melvin and Elaine Wolf Foundation, the primary underwriter of the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class. “It shows that our kids are talented, motivated, and just as passionate about dance as everyone else at Colorado Ballet.”

“Showcase is our students’ opportunity to show their hard work over the course of the year,” said Anne O’Connor, Director of Education at Colorado Ballet. “And Showcase gives our youngest students the chance to see the progression of what they can achieve.”

Tickets for the Spring Academy Showcase are $10 for children 10 and under, $15 for adults, and are available for purchase at the Colorado Ballet Box Office at 1278 Lincoln St., Denver, 80203, or by calling 303-339-1637. For more information about the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class and other programs aimed at improving the lives of people with Down syndrome, visit www.globaldownsyndrome.org or email programs@globaldownsyndrome.org.

About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a public non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy. Formally established in 2009, the Foundation’s primary focus is to support the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home in the US committed to research and medical care for people with the condition. Fundraising and government advocacy that corrects the alarming disparity of national funding for people with Down syndrome is a major short-term goal. The Foundation organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show – the single largest annual fundraiser benefitting people with Down syndrome. Programmatically, the Foundation organizes and funds many programs and conferences including the Dare to Play Football and Cheer Camps, Global Down Syndrome Educational Series and Global Down Syndrome Multi-Language Resource Project. The Foundation is an inclusive organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.

About the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome
The mission of the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome (the “Sie Center”) is to provide the best medical care to children with Down syndrome regardless of race, gender, medical condition, socioeconomic status, and as a supplement to primary care. The Sie Center is headquartered on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Colorado and it is the clinical care center under the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome. The Linda Crnic Institute is the first organization in the U.S. with the mission to eradicate the medical and cognitive ill effects associated with Down syndrome through basic and clinical research and through clinical care.

About Colorado Ballet
Established in 1961 by Lillian Covillo and Freidann Parker, Colorado Ballet is a non-profit organization celebrating 51 years of presenting world-class classical ballet and superior dance in Denver.  Under the direction of Artistic Director Gil Boggs, Colorado Ballet presents more than 50 performances annually. Colorado Ballet enhances the cultural life of Colorado through performances of the professional company, training at the Academy, and Education & Outreach programs.

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