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Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Classes at the Colorado Ballet

Celebrating 6 years of providing dance and confidence to children with Down syndrome

The Be Beautiful Be Yourself (BBBY) dance program was launched in 2010 with only 10 students and is a partnership between Colorado Ballet, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado. In six years the program has served over 100 children with Down syndrome and their families.

The BBBY classes are made possible by a generous grant from The Melvin & Elaine Wolf Foundation and culminate with two students being chosen to perform in the official production of the Nutcracker at the Colorado Ballet.

“You know you’ve succeeded as an instructor and as a catalyst for change when one of our students gets up in front of over 2,000 people at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Nutcracker,” said Gil Boggs, Artistic Director at Colorado Ballet. “You can almost feel the audience grasping that there’s a kiddo with Down syndrome on the stage nailing their role and inspiring a whole new paradigm. I am proud to put these dancers in the Nutcracker production!”


World renowned physical therapist, author of Gross Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, and Director of Therapies at the Sie Center, Patricia C. Winders, initiated the program.

The BBBY dance classes are offered weekly, throughout the year for 25 children with Down syndrome ages 5-14 at three levels of experience. Three Colorado Ballet instructors work closely with Winders to build kinesthetic and cognitive skills through locomotor movements that incorporate shapes, rhythm and basic dance steps. Each class culminates with a showcase for approximately 175 family members and friends where students demonstrate their skills and self-confidence.

“PWP - Intro - Piper (2)iper loved this class,” said parent Aimee Guildner. “In our world of school and homework and therapy, it made my heart happy to take her somewhere she was really, genuinely, excited about going. She could be herself. She could be successful. She was happy. I think that, all too often, our kids are faced with trying to be ‘good enough.’ I commend these classes for not making them feel ‘good enough’ and instead making them feel great!”

By Samantha Hyde, Colorado Ballet Director of Education

View photos of the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fall Dance Program!

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