Volunteer Spotlight: Nicole Killion

It’s time for another volunteer spotlight! This month, we interviewed Nicole Killion, who is back for her 5th year of volunteering at danceability. Nicole always walks in the studio with a huge smile on her face and carries that into the classes she volunteers in. She’s worked primarily with dancers Sydney and Eric during her time at the studio and has formed a great bond with them both. In addition to volunteering, Nicole is always supportive of our danceability fundraiser efforts too! Read more about why Nicole got involved at danceability!

Nicole with dancer Sydney

Nicole with dancer Sydney

Why did you decide to volunteer?

I decided to volunteer because I saw danceability featured on the news and I knew it was something I would love to get involved with. I was a dancer since I was five, so this was a way to share my love of dance with others. 

What is your favorite part of class?

My favorite part of class is when we learn a new combination or dance. I love watching the dancers concentrate on learning new steps and then seeing the smile on their faces when they have accomplished it. 

What would you tell potential volunteers about joining danceability?

I’d definitely tell potential volunteers to join danceability. It is so rewarding to go to dance each and every week. The dancers love to see you each week, dance with you, and you will leave every dance class with a smile on your face.


Nicole performing in the 2016 Annual Performances

What is your favorite danceability memory to date?

I have many favorite memories at danceability. One of my favorites would have to be during my first year of volunteering. At the end of our recital dance, my dancer Sydney turned to me and gave me a huge hug and shouted, “We did it!” Yes, Sydney, we did! That moment proved to me why I love to volunteer at danceability. The students have pure joy and a sense of accomplishment when they get on that stage in May and show everyone how much they have grown and what they learned throughout the year!

Danceability is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year – what is your wish for danceability for the next ten years?

My wish is to have danceability continue to grow and serve more dancers. I have seen tremendous growth in the past five years, so I have no doubt that will continue for the next ten!


A big thank you to Nicole for her continued support of our program, and to all the volunteers who make danceability a part of their weekly routine. If you are interested in getting involved at danceability, reach out to us at danceabilitywny@gmail.com or call the studio at 716-651-0094.


Parent Perspective: Building Independence and Appreciating Connection


Dancer Eliza after this year’s danceability performances!

I have been focused on helping my daughter, Eliza, build her independence. On some level, she has been demanding it for years! Meanwhile her connection to me strengthens as she sees my commitment to helping her achieve her goals. It is interesting and valuable to me to see how helping her to move towards independence makes us closer rather than creates a barrier between us.

An additional challenge to these efforts is that Eliza has been living in a group home for 5 years. She is now 17, so she has the typical teenage challenges that come with maturity. (The decision to have Eliza move from my home to a group home was difficult, to say the least. If you would like to learn more about that journey, I invite you to read an article I wrote about that decision.

Eliza wants to volunteer working with animals, and eventually be employed. (I think the employment goal is really about getting a cell phone!) We’ve struggled finding someone willing to give Eliza that opportunity to volunteer. But she knows I haven’t given up. She has questions about what might be possible for her life. We have been having very intense conversations. I want to encourage her dreams. And I also believe that some of what Eliza wants is not going to happen. (Driving a Mustang, as her sister hopes to do, is likely out of her reach.)

The world can sometimes seem chaotic and scary when thinking about her future. She needs opportunity, guidance, skill development, support, reinforcement, stability, and confidence. I’m here for her trying to be a good guide and advocate. But this is so much easier when I know that others are committed to her too.


Mary Beth and dancer Eliza

Danceability is one such partner. Danceability is new to her. She has only participated for two years. Eliza loves music, but singing has always been more important to her than movement. So, I wasn’t sure how she would take to the experience.

Eliza is not that dancer that is all about the dance. But she is the dancer who embraces relationships with adults and children. She’s the dancer who glows when others reinforce their pride in her and her efforts. She is the dancer who enjoys being a part of something and having the opportunity to exhibit leadership.

Danceability provides all of that and more. This is one more way for Eliza to build towards independence, whatever that eventually looks like for her.

But, I’m still her Mom, and it’s nice to feel wanted and valuable. So, at her last show when she came on stage and stood frozen for several moments, I experienced such joy when she scanned the audience intently, actually found me and made eye contact, gave me her amazing smile, and then was able to dance with her friends, feeling secure in the “embrace” of her Mom.


This post was written by Mary Beth Debus. Mary Beth is Eliza’s Mom and a new Board Member for danceability.

Meet The Teachers!

As we kick off our 10th year, we wanted to take a few minutes to introduce you to this year’s teaching staff. We were sad to say goodbye to two teachers this past year, Miss Megan and Miss Kylie, but we are thrilled to welcome three new teachers, Miss Kathryn, Miss Sarah and Miss Amanda to the danceability family.

Fitting that in our 10th year, danceability has grown to 10 teachers!

Get to know our teachers, hear what they were up to over the summer and see what they are looking forward to this year!
Miss Robin & her family at Lake Placid this summer

Miss Robin & her family at Lake Placid this summer

Miss Robin Bishop, Co-Founder and Executive Director

1.) What were you up to over the summer?

I was busy being pregnant and transporting my 3 & 6 year old to their fun summer activities. I also started planning great things for danceability’s 10th Anniversary year!

2.) What are you looking forward to most this year?
Besides the birth of my third child!, I am really excited to bring back some dance numbers from the past (more on that, soon!). It should be so fun.

3.) It’s danceability’s 10th Anniversary year – what do you think the biggest accomplishment of danceability has been over the past ten years?
I think one big accomplishment is keeping so many dancers with us from day one – and also introducing so many new dancers to dance.

Miss Christine Dwyer, 
Co-Founder and Senior Instructor

Miss Christine D. and her son Jack at the fair this summer!

Miss Christine D. and her son Jack at the fair this summer!

1.) What were you up to over the summer?

This summer was spent with my son Jack! We started summer by celebrating his 1st birthday on June 30th. We also explored all the things Buffalo has to offer. We went to Canalside for Explore and More, had lunch at the Hatch and played in the big sandbox. We went to Bills training camp, the Erie County Fair and the Zoo! We also enjoyed visiting friends and making new ones!

2.) What are you looking forward to most this year?
This year I look forward to spending the year celebrating our 10th Anniversary! I am so proud and excited for the past 10 years and can’t wait to take a look back. It will be so much fun!!

3.) It’s danceability’s 10th anniversary year – what do you think the biggest accomplishment of danceability has been over the past ten years?
I feel the biggest accomplishment is touching so many lives! When we started I really only thought about the dancers and their immediate families, but it has been so much more than that. We have touched the lives of our volunteers, Board members, donors and extended families. And they in turn have blessed us! 


Miss Christine A. enjoying an up close look at a dolphin this summer!

Miss Christine Antinone, Instructor

1.) What were you up to over the summer?

This summer I enjoyed spending time with family and friends. We went to concerts, comedy shows, and enjoyed Canalside. I took a vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and we were able to enjoy the beach and sun. We celebrated many weddings of friends and family that were great fun.

2.) What are you looking forward to most this year?
I am looking forward to getting back to dance and meeting all of the dancers and volunteers I will have the opportunity to work with. I am excited to see what the 10th anniversary year will bring, and to share the new and fun dance songs I have found.

3.) It’s danceability’s 10th anniversary year – what do you think the biggest accomplishment of danceability has been over the past ten years?
The biggest accomplishment of danceability has been the ability to bring dance into the lives of every child or adult who is willing to give dance a try. No matter someone’s age, ability, or needs they are able to establish classes so each dancer can be successful. I am truly proud to be apart of such a special organization. 

Miss Lisa with her daughters

Miss Lisa with her daughters

Miss Lisa Book, Instructor

1.) What were you up to over the summer?

Over the summer, I gave birth to my second daughter!!!  We named her Natalee Marie Book!  This summer has been filled with lots of love, joy and some tears, as our two year old has had to adjust to having a new baby sister!  We have been working on a lot of projects around the house and have spent a lot of time in our pool because it has been so HOT!!!

2.) What are you looking forward to most this year?
This year, I’m most looking forward to trying out some new warm ups, stretches and combinations that I’ve been working on while on maternity leave!  I cant wait to see all of my returning dancers and I’m very excited to meet some new ones as well!!!

3.) It’s danceability’s 10th anniversary year – what do you think the biggest accomplishment of danceability has been over the past ten years?
I think danceability’s biggest accomplishment in these past 10 years has been the amazing reputation that it has built, which in turn has lead to an outstanding number of students and volunteers!!! And oh my goodness, this coming year, we have 10 teachers as well as 2 office staff!!! We have gone from a one room studio to a two room studio with a large waiting room and sometimes feel like we are bursting at the seams even in the bigger space!!! I talk to everyone I meet about danceability, and I am often surprised (even though I shouldn’t be) that many people have heard about us and have heard great things!!!  I am so PROUD to be a part of this amazing studio and to be a part of these dancers lives!

Miss Michelle P. at paint night with her friends!

Miss Michelle P. at paint night with her friends!

Miss Michelle Phillips, 

1.) What were you up to over the summer?
I did lots of fun things this summer!  I relaxed at Long Beach in Canada with my family. My family and I went to Cleveland to see a baseball game against the Yankees (Go Yankees!). I went to the Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas concert with my friend Maggie. I went blueberry picking with my boyfriend Tony and went to a “Paint Nite” with my friends Colleen and Sarah! Plus, I taught summer dance classes at danceability! 

2.) What are you looking forward to most this year?
I’m looking forward to trying new activities with my dancers this year.  Over the summer I worked with many of our teachers and learned lots of new activities that I think my dancers will love!  I also am looking forward to seeing my dancers that I haven’t seen since our last class in May!

3.) It’s danceability’s 10th anniversary year – what do you think the biggest accomplishment of danceability has been over the past ten years?
I think the biggest accomplishment of danceability over the last 10 years is giving people with disabilities, young and old the chance to make friends, exercise, and try new things, and become empowered. There are more and more organizations for people with disabilities, but I feel that danceability is different because we are a family. Our dancers and their families make amazing friendships, some of which have lasted about as long as danceability has been open!  I love hearing about our dancers going to each other’s birthday parties or going places together.  Wonderful friendships and memories are made at danceability!

Miss Kayleigh Terranova, Instructor

Miss Kayleigh and her husband in Iceland!

Miss Kayleigh and her husband in Iceland!

1.) What were you up to over the summer?
This summer I’ve been busy with lots of traveling!  I spent time in Charleston, Rhode Island and New York City, but my favorite place I went was Iceland!  My husband, sister and two of our friends spent a week exploring the country, trying the food and immersing ourselves in their culture.  It truly was the trip of a lifetime and a place I highly recommend visiting! 

2.) What are you looking forward to most this year?
I am really looking forward to being reunited with my classes from last year, and meeting my new classes for this year!  I am excited to watch my dancers grow and learn new things while having fun at the same time!

3.) It’s danceability’s 10th anniversary year – what do you think the biggest accomplishment of danceability has been over the past ten years?
I think it is incredible how much danceability has grown over the past 10 years.  We really are a family, and wouldn’t be anything without our volunteers and dancers; those who have been with danceability since the beginning and those who have joined along the way!
Miss Elissa with danceability volunteer and her Dad, Paul) at a concert this summer!

Miss Elissa with danceability volunteer and her Dad, Paul) at a concert this summer!

Miss Elissa Webster, Instructor

1.) What were you up to over the summer?
Worked and relaxed!

2.) What are you looking forward to most this year?
New memories!

3.) It’s danceability’s 10th anniversary year – what do you think the biggest accomplishment of danceability has been over the past ten years?
Danceability’s family has grown, ( in dancers and volunteers) and it continues to grow because of the creation of a joyous, positive and welcoming atmosphere for all! 





Miss Kathryn Miner, Instructor

1.) Give us your quick bio so our dancers, families and volunteers can get to know you!

Miss Kathryn over the summer when she participated as an alumnus at her old dance studio!

Miss Kathryn over the summer when she participated as an alumnus at her old dance studio!

My name is Kathryn Miner, Katy for short and I have been dancing since I was 3 years old with tap being my favorite! I am a childhood special education major at Daemen College with my area of study in mathematics! 

2.) Why did you apply to be a danceability teacher?
I applied for this job as a teacher for two reasons: my passion for dance and my desire to continue my career as a dancer! Not only will I be dancing, I will be teaching and be able to learn what is like to teach my own classes, choreograph my own dances, and gain experience working with children and adults with special needs. 
3.) What are you most looking forward to this year?
I am looking forward to seeing my choreography coming to life. Throughout my dance career I subbed for other teachers, co-taught, and assisted teachers but the classes were never fully mine. With that being said, I am so excited to apply my knowledge and love of dance 

Miss Sarah Redman, Instructor

Miss Sarah (left) hiking in Akron Falls with some friends this summer!

Miss Sarah (left) hiking in Akron Falls with some friends this summer!

1.) Give us your quick bio so our dancers, families and volunteers can get to know you!
I am currently in my 4th year at Buffalo State College for my Bachelor’s Degree in Exceptional Education Grades 1-6 (dual certification).
I love tap dancing, going camping with my family, and I have an obsession with Disney World (especially Cinderella).

2.) Why did you apply to be a danceability teacher?
I applied for the teaching job because I had such an awesome experience when I volunteered over the summer when I was in high school! By volunteering at danceability, it made me realize what I wanted to major in in college. I love everything about the studio!
3.) What are you looking forward to this year?
I have a few things that I am looking forward to this year. The first is that I am looking forward to having the most fun, and amazing experiences teaching all of my students and being able to teach them the love of dance. The second, I am looking forward to graduating in May with my Bachelor’s Degree!


Miss Amanda Sanbelmo, Instructor

1.) Give us your quick bio so our dancers, families and volunteers can get to know you!
I started dancing when I was 18 months old and have been dancing ever since. I have been trained in many Styles including tap, jazz, ballet, modern, hip hop, and lyrical. I graduated this past

Miss Amanda took a class this summer at the Broadway Dance Center in NYC!

Miss Amanda took a class this summer at the Broadway Dance Center in NYC!

May from SUNY Fredonia with a degree in psychology and dance and was part of the Fredonia Dance Ensemble while in college.

2.) Why did you apply to be a danceability teacher?
I applied to be a danceability teacher so I could share my love and passion for dance with others. I strongly believe that dance brings people together and allows people to grow in so many areas in life and I wanted to be able to give what dance has given me to others!

3.) What are you looking forward to this year?
This year I think I am most looking forward to building relationships with my students and being a part of the danceability family! 


Our teaching staff is looking forward to getting to know all their dancers this year and can’t wait to welcome them to the studio next week!
One other new face to danceability is Miss Beth Hess. Miss Beth will be our Evening Office Assistant and will be there to answer any questions our parents, families, staff and volunteers have. She will also be taking tuition payments and keeping everyone updated on the latest happenings at danceability!

Here’s to a great 10th dance year at danceability!

10 Things You Didn’t Know About danceability

It’s time to officially kick off our 10th year!
Dancers have registered for classes (there is still time to join a class)!
Volunteers are being slotted in (we can always use more, though)!
In a few weeks classes will be running and away we will go.

As we look back on our past ten years, we will offer a monthly blog feature – “Top 10” lists. Everything from costumes to dances to donors and much more, we will be recapping ten years and looking forward to what is next.

To kick off our Top 10 lists, we thought we’d share 10 things you might not know about danceability.



Miss Christine & Miss Robin with their original copy of Nonprofits for Dummies!

1. Our name is a dictionary definition by design; word, part of speech, definition
Danceability, noun, to empower through movement

2. Danceability is always written in lowercase letters and italicized (unless it starts a sentence, then it’s capitalized)

3. At our very first registration, Miss Robin & Miss Christine forgot to turn on the electricity and did registration by lantern!

4. To begin danceability, Miss Robin & Miss Christine used Nonprofits for Dummies to help them get off the ground!

5. To get enough money for the deposit on the space, Miss Robin & Miss Christine wrote letters to friends and family members asking for a $5 donation (this was before GoFundMe and Crowdrise were around)!

6. Miss Robin & Miss Christine ran the studio for the first two years as volunteers.

7. Miss Robin became the first and only current full-time employee starting in year four!

8. The larger studio is dedicated to Miss Christine’s parents.

9. Miss Christine picked out the famous, danceability purple color and Miss Robin picked out the studio colors.

10. All of the instructors at danceability are college educated – and have backgrounds in teaching, physical therapy, social work and more!

Stay tuned for another “Top 10” list in October and check out our Facebook and Twitter pages regularly for more 10th Anniversary features. We will be using the #DecadeOfDance!

Volunteer Spotlight: KasieLynn Schultz

We say it every year, but danceability would be nothing without our volunteers. They are the heart of the organization and have really made our program so much more than we could have ever imagined. Today, we highlight one volunteer, KasieLynn Schultz, who has been volunteering in the classroom since our first day! Over the past nine years, KasieLynn has been such a positive force for our dancers and has been through it all with us. Learn more about how KasieLynn got involved, and why she keeps coming back each year to support danceability!

20130511_134908-10011Why did you decide to volunteer at danceability?

I previously volunteered with Miss Christine and Miss Robin where I received college credit in one of my human services classes. Miss Robin came to me over the summer in 2007 and told me about their exciting news of starting their own dance studio and asked if I would join them by volunteering at their new studio! I was so excited for them and couldn’t wait to start volunteering at the dance studio!

Do you have a favorite dance routine you performed over the past 9 years?

There have been so many dance routines over the past 9 years I don’t think I could pick just one! Each dance routine holds a special place in my heart and I remember each of them! From the genre of dance to the choice of music, the new steps and combinations, the costumes, the dancers, the teacher and fellow volunteers each dance routine is unique all of its own.  I’m always so excited to see each of my dance routine’s finished product at the annual dance performances!

What has been the most rewarding part of volunteering?

The most rewarding part of volunteering with danceability for me has been being able to be a part of a great organization that brings families and the community together, allowing the students to express themselves through dance and to see the joy it brings to their lives as well as my own.

Do you have a “success” story of a dancer you have worked with for years, or from the beginning who has really excelled at danceability? Or even just the experience of 20140510_185106-1001watching the dancers grow up.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to dance with so many different dancers over the past 9 years at danceability.  Being able to see each of them grow up and achieve so much in their personal lives as well as their dance career brings so much joy to my life and I’m so proud of them, they have shown me what life is truly about! I love to see the smile on their face when they learn or master a new step or combination and how proud they are of themselves, it’s magical.

What would you say to potential volunteers?

I would tell potential volunteers to join danceability as it’s a life changing experience, you get back so much more then you give.  Everyone has so much fun and there’s so much joy surrounding you, a smile dances across everyone’s face! You have to experience it for yourself!

How has danceability changed and evolved over the years from your point of view?

Danceability has evolved into a great organization from a dream to reality, that I’m very proud to be a part of.  Danceability continues to grow every year, from the very beginning of 1 dance studio and 2 teachers to 2 dance studios and 9 teachers. The number of students and volunteers have more than doubled over the years. Danceability strives to be a loving and caring environment for all of their students, volunteers and their families! I can’t say it enough they are truly a wonderful organization!

20150509_124825001What do you hope the next ten years of danceability brings?

I hope the next 10 years of danceability brings continued success, Dance, joy, happiness, and love to all of its great dancers, teachers, volunteers, families, board members and the community as it already has for the past 9 years! I’m excited to see what the future holds for danceability!

Thank you, Kasie for being such an incredible volunteer. We celebrate you this year as much as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. Without our volunteers, we would not have been able to provide great classes for our dancers.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer in the classroom, or helping out at our fundraisers or in the office, please contact us at danceabilitywny@gmail.com or by phone at 716-651-0094!

Volunteer Spotlight: Melanie Koch

IMG_0192As we continue to get closer to our Annual Performances, we are always reminded of how amazing our volunteers are. All year, but especially around performance time, they go above and beyond for their dancers. Today, we feature volunteer Melanie Koch as our volunteer spotlight!

In addition to volunteering in the classroom, Melanie has helped on our fundraising committees, attends all our fundraisers and is currently raising money (like many of our volunteers are) in our “Move To Your Own Beat” Crowdrise campaign. Learn more about Melanie and her danceability experience.

How long have you been volunteering with danceability?
I started volunteering in January 2011.
Why did you decide to volunteer with danceability?IMG_0281
I was looking for a volunteer opportunity that had direct interaction with people and found danceability while I was searching the Internet.  When I researched the program it seemed like a perfect fit – I took dance classes for most of my childhood so the idea that I could help others experience the joy of dance who might not otherwise have that opportunity really appealed to me. I also liked that I could volunteer to do something meaningful with just a one hour per week commitment.
What is your favorite part of class?
All of it! But if I had to choose one thing it is the sense of accomplishment that Audrey has each time she masters a
new step, and then sharing a high five and a hug to celebrate!
What would you tell potential volunteers about joining the danceability family?
Danceability truly is a family, and as a volunteer you have the opportunity to make a big difference in someone else’s life. Becoming a volunteer has been one of my most rewarding experiences and is something I look forward to each week.  If you think you might want to volunteer, come observe a class or watch our recital and you’ll see first hand how danceability empowers its students through movement!
IMG_0384What is your favorite danceability memory to date?
Recital days are always a favorite memory.  We work so hard all year on our recital dance, so when the time comes to go up on stage in front of family and friends it is truly something special.   Nothing beats seeing Audrey’s excitement for dancing on the big stage, hearing the applause, watching her wave to her family in the audience at the end of the dance and then look at me and exclaim “I did it!” with a big smile!
Join us on Saturday, May 7th as we watch Melanie and Audrey take the stage along with all our dancers and volunteers. Performances are at 1pm & 6pm. It’s going to be a special day, one that we can’t pull off without our volunteers, so thank you Melanie and all our danceability volunteers!

Inside Miss Kayleigh’s classes

IMG_4379We are back with another chance to go inside the studio with one of our new teachers, Miss Kayleigh! Learn about her transition from volunteer to teacher and hear how her performances dances are coming along!
What age levels do you teach?
My dancers are age 18 and up! I teach two classes on Monday evening.  My first class, I was a volunteer with for 4 years before becoming their teacher, so it has been really fun watching them grow over the past 5 years!  They are the sweetest girls.  My second is a new class of four ladies, two of whom are brand new to danceability.  They all have such great personalities; we have a lot of fun!
What does a typical class look like? 
The first half of the year we warm up and stretch, and then try out some new dance steps!  Whether it is a jazz or tap combination, freestyle dancing, using the exercise balls, combinations at the barre or working across the floor, class is filled with fun dance movements that help the students step outside their comfort zone and grow as dancers.
Now that the recital is getting closer, we start off with a warm up and stretch, and then work on our dance!  Whether it is adding on new steps, or reviewing and practicing the whole dance, we are working to be ready for the Annual Performance in May!
Do you have favorite songs you play each week in class?IMG_4372
In my first class, we love warming up to “Shake It” by Metro Station.  The girl’s smiles during that song are my favorite.  Other than that, I try to change it up by playing different fun pop songs that get the girls dancing and moving.       
The Whip/Nae Nae and Wobble are definitely favorites in my second class, I’m pretty sure they would dance to those songs all class if I let them!  They all like different types of music, from rock and roll to Beyonce, so it is always fun putting a playlist together.
What’s your favorite part of class?
I enjoy every moment spent with my dancers and volunteers.  They all bring something special to the class and are a true joy to be around.  I love seeing the dancers accomplish something they have been working hard towards.  We share a lot of smiles and laughs and have a lot of fun along the way!  I also really love to see the bonds formed between dancers and their volunteers.  Its something really special being part of the danceability family and it makes this an organization unlike any other.
How are performance practices coming along? 

 Great!  I am really excited about the songs and dances this year, and can’t wait to see everything come together.  My dancers really seem to love them and are looking forward to the Performance in May!

Where do you get inspiration for combinations you create or the dances for the performances?
Inspiration for combinations really comes from my dancers.  I think about what makes them happy, what they love to do and what new things they can conquer and let that be my guide when choreographing.  I also teach them steps and combinations throughout the year that will eventually be put into their performance. I still volunteer with Miss Christine on Mondays- Her guidance and watching her teach has been incredibly helpful as well.

IMG_4383What do you hope your dancers get out of class each week?
I hope they leave my class having learned something new or having conquered a step/combination that they have been working on.  I like to keep them smiling, having fun and looking forward to coming back the following week.  I love dancing and hope they feel that in each class I teach.


We are thrilled to have Miss Kayleigh on our teaching staff this year and think you will love her Annual Performance routines. Don’t forget to join us on May 7th for our 9th Annual Performances. Showtimes are at 1pm & 6pm. Get all the information, HERE!