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Colorado Ballet Casts Two Global Dancers to Perform in “The Nutcracker”


KUSA – Maya Ramirez doesn’t shy away from cameras or audiences. Good thing, because she’s got a big performance coming up this week.

On Thursday night, the 9-year-old will take the stage in the Colorado Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. All of her dance class preparation has lead up to this moment.

Ramirez is one of the students in the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class. The class teaches dance skills to boys and girls with Down syndrome. Maya and 14-year-old Laura Isaza are both students in the class. The Global Down Syndrome Foundation launched the program in the spring of 2010, responding to the need of parents who said that they’re children with Down syndrome were being ignored in typical dance classes or that teachers didn’t have the necessary skills to incorporate their children into the classes. The classes are done in partnership with the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at The Children’s Hospital.

“We’re just so excited to show that kids with Down syndrome can do what typical kids can,” said Michelle Sie Whitten, president and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

Through a partnership with the Colorado Ballet, select dancers from the Be Beautiful Be Yourself class are chosen to dance in performances of The Nutcracker. The Colorado Ballet has performed the show for more than five decades, often to sell-out crowds.

“This is the fifth year that two of our students have been selected to be in the official Nutcracker,” Whitten said. “We’re so excited!”

The dance class not only teaches dance skills, it also builds confidence and teaches the importance of being healthy.

“They really incorporate this quickly into their daily lives in terms of exercise,” Whitten said.

Maya will perform in The Nutcracker on Thursdayat 7:30 p.m. at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Tickets are still available.

Pushing up her glasses between pirouettes, Maya says she’s ready to take the stage with performers from Colorado Ballet. It’ll be easy to spot her on-stage. She’ll be wearing her glasses… and a huge smile.

For more information on the Global Down Syndrome Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class, click here: http://bit.ly/2hEYMeG

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