Volunteer Spotlight: Michele Sprada

As National Volunteer Week gets close to wrapping up, we wanted to share another incredible volunteer with you. Meet Michele Sprada. Michele has been with us for a few years and is always ready to jump in where needed.

We asked Michele about her danceability experience, and here’s what she had to say:

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Michele – second from the left with some of the other Monday night volunteers

Why did you decide to volunteer at danceability?

I decided to volunteer at danceability because I have always been passionate about dance.  I studied dance for 20 years and danced professionally for years.  After 5 knee surgeries, I can no longer dance much myself, but I love to share my passion for dance with others.  I also have a Master’s degree in special education and I enjoy working with very special individuals.

What is your favorite part of class each week?
My favorite part of class is when the dancers feel proud of their accomplishments.  I love to see the enjoyment on their faces as they accomplish their dancing dreams.

What would you tell potential volunteers about joining?
I would tell volunteers not to underestimate their dancer.  They can do far more than you or they think they can. Do not be afraid to have high expectations and encourage them to try new things.  Make them feel at ease with the movement.

Tell us about your favorite danceability moment to date…
My favorite danceability moment was sharing the experience with my former exchange students from Senegal and Bangladesh, Dija and Fariha last year.  They really enjoyed working with this amazing organization and they learned so much.  Perhaps they will start a local branch of danceability in their home countries!

One other special moment for me….20 years ago, I taught first grade then looped to second grade with my class.  I had a child with Down’s Syndrome in this inclusion class.  I lost track of her after she moved on to middle and high school.  But, last year, we reunited at danceability!  I now look forward to seeing her every week as she is in the class just after the one that I volunteer for.  She is doing so well and it has given me so much joy to be back in touch with her.

As danceability celebrates its 10th Anniversary, what is your hope for danceability for the next ten years?
I hope danceability will continue to bring joy into the lives of all sorts of people with varying abilities and continue to create meaningful connections between dancers and their volunteers.

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Thank you Michele and all our amazing volunteers. We can’t do it without you.
If you want to support our volunteers, many are currently raising money to support our 10th Annual Performances.DONATE NOW

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“Who’s Who” on the danceability Board of Directors

Meet the danceability Board of Directors. An eclectic group of people from various backgrounds, walks of life, jobs, and perspectives. What they do have in common though is their passion for danceability and desire to see the organization grow and thrive to the best of its ability. This group has been together nearly a year, and is working on strategic planning and setting goals for what they want to see danceability accomplish in the next few years. Next time you see this great group, make sure you give them a wave or a high five!

Krystal Testa, Chairwoman

What made you want to serve on the BOD?

I started as a volunteer for danceability back in January 2009. I instantly fell in love with the organization and kept trying to find more and more ways to get involved. I helped out at fundraisers, and then eventually knew I should join the Board of Directors. It’s been an absolute privilege serving for the past six years, first as a Director, then the Vice Chair, and for the past three years as the Chairman of the Board – I can’t believe my term is up and I’ll need to step down at the end of this year (but don’t worry I’m not going away!)

What ties do you have to danceability?

When I joined I really had no ties. I googled “volunteer opportunities in Buffalo” and danceability came up. I grew up a dancer, and though I hadn’t been dancing for a while, knew it would be a perfect fit to combine my passion for the special needs community and dance in one place!

What’s your favorite memory of being a part of the danceability family?

A single favorite memory is impossible – so I’m going to list a few. There have been so many incredible moments in the studio with dancers that have moved me to tears, and in many ways changed my life. There was a dancer who said nothing to me for weeks (which wasn’t out of the ordinary for this dancer). Then one week, when I least expected it, she looked me right in the eyes and said, “Friend”. It was a WOW moment! There was a dancer who every time she mastered a step got so excited she started cheering. It was beautiful to see unfold in front of my eyes (and to play some small part in it). There were countless weeks when dancers were just so happy to see you that you were greeted with a big hug – what could be better than that?
Each year when I get on the stage with the dancers I get very emotional (it’s a good thing the audience is so far away because otherwise they may see a few tears running down my cheeks as we perform!). To see their journey from September in the studio to May on the stage is truly an impressive transformation. The sheer joy they exude while performing is something everyone should see.

On a more personal note, in December 2015, I suddenly lost my Dad. Over the next few weeks (it happened right before Christmas), I received dozens of holiday cards from danceability families, volunteers and teachers sending me their love and support. I could not believe each day as I went to grab the mail the amount of cards and letters I had waiting for me. It truly made such a difficult time a little easier.

Tell us some fun facts about yourself:

I am the person behind all the danceability social media. So nearly all of the posts you see on Facebook & Twitter, are written by me – as well as most of the posts on this blog. I am a social media junkie – and I love sharing all the amazing stories of our dancers and volunteers! I am a foodie and love exploring all the restaurants Buffalo has to offer (and eating my way through other cities that I visit). I love to travel, take pictures of everything and teach Pilates on the weekends.

 

Caitlyn Kilkenny, Treasurer

What made you want to serve on the BOD?
I have been wanting to volunteer to help on a board for a while now. I knew I wanted to be a part of an organization that works with, or benefits children. I had been involved with Special Olympics through college, and really enjoy my time with those athletes. Danceability seemed like a good fit based on my past experiences.

What ties do you have to danceability?
I really don’t have any actual ties to danceability yet, and I haven’t been involved long enough to have any memories. I am looking forward to going to shows and getting much more involved in the organization. I learned about danceability through work, and through Cara Rossi. Originally when the board reached out to Freed looking for help I was interested, but out of town, so I didn’t respond soon enough. Then when Cara realized she would need help through her pregnancy, she reached out, and it worked out perfectly – I think!

Tell us some fun facts about yourself:

I am a pretty active person. Played college soccer at Niagara University and have continued to play in adult leagues since. That is until I tore a few ligaments in my ankle last summer, and I have spent the past 7 months in surgery recovery. I hope to start playing again in May. When I’m not playing soccer I like to play softball, and I also really enjoy baking for other people. I grew up in Ohio, just south of Cleveland, and my parents still live there. My family is everything to me. My sisters are some of my best friends. I am a soon-to-be aunt and I cannot wait! I have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and my MBA with a focus in accountancy. I have been at Freed Maxick CPAs for almost five years now.

Katie Stein, Secretary

What made you want to serve on the BOD?
I started out as an in-class volunteer and fell in love with danceability! There was an opening on the board and I felt that it would be a great honor to sit on the board and help support our great mission in any way possible!

What ties do you have to danceability?
A college friend of mine found danceability through her master’s program and started volunteering. After a year of her telling me how wonderful it was, there was an opening in her class for a volunteer and I joined! Six years later I am still loving that I can be part of such an amazing organization.
What’s your favorite memory of being a part of the danceability family?
Such a tough question! It brings a smile to my face and a wonderful feeling in my heart whenever I hear people talking about danceability or I get to enlighten people of what we do! It’s too hard to pick just one memory! I do think that as a volunteer it was always the best part of my day walking into the dance studio and seeing the smile on my dancer’s face as she would walk through the door. No matter what kind of day I was having, to see that taking 45 minutes out of my day could brighten her day that much always made it worthwhile! Little things could be such huge milestones for the dancers and to see that click and how proud of themselves they become will always stick with me even now that I no longer volunteer in the classroom.
Tell us some fun facts about yourself:

I have a wonderful family which includes my husband of 5 years, two beautiful daughters, ages 3 and 1, and my fur baby Guinness! I work as a nuclear medicine technologist doing stress testing.

Mary Beth Debus, Director

What made you want to serve on the BOD?
I have served on Boards before but was not active on any when the opportunity with danceability became available. The organization has a solid history and still has lots of opportunity – so my hope was to contribute and help the organization continue its success.
What ties do you have to danceability?
My youngest daughter, Eliza, is in her third year dancing with danceability.
What’s your favorite memory of being a part of the danceability family?
At least year’s performance, Eliza came out on stage and looked distracted. I sensed that she was looking for me – and yet she had no idea where in the audience I was. And yet, we found each other, despite me offering her nothing more than a smile. Once we made eye contact, she smiled broadly, and went right to work performing her dance! It was special.
Tell us some fun facts about yourself:
I own my own business doing work primarily with non-profits. I love to write. I work out with a trainer and love it. Walking is my best medicine and problem solver. I have dressed as a mascot – twice!

Diane Klein, Director


What made you want to serve on the BOD?
Danceability is an incredible program that so many dancers and their families benefit from.  I have been a volunteer dancer for five years and felt it was time to contribute more to danceability. 

What ties do you have to danceability?
I have been a volunteer dancer for five years, help out in the office and made many of the costumes for the recitals.
What’s your favorite memory of being a part of the danceability family?
My favorite memory is of the first recital.  Seeing the look of accomplishment on my dancers faces and the proud look on their parents faces and the overall happiness was special indeed. 
Tell us some fun facts about yourself:
I have always loved dancing and have wished I was a professional dancer but have never taken a dance class.  I was one of five children who grew up on a farm in upstate NY.  I came to Buffalo for college.  I have been married for 35 years and have two children and one grandchild.  I was a teacher for 34 years. Since retiring, I have been able to do many of the things I enjoy~ traveling, gardening, spending time with family and friends and my granddaughter and volunteering at danceability.  

Terry Regan, Director

What made you want to serve on the BOD?

My daughter Lindsay has been a dancer with danceability since its inception 10 years ago. danceability has been such a big part of our lives that when Lindsay’s dance teacher Christine Dwyer asked if I would join the board of directors, there was no way I could say no. Through danceability my daughter has grown in confidence, ability, and has made lots of friends. We enjoy every single aspect of being part of the danceability family. I felt and continue to feel it’s important to give back so that others are able to benefit from danceability as my child has. Volunteers are the backbone of any nonprofit agency.
What ties do you have to danceability?
Lindsay’s BFF is a fellow dancer. (She and Jamie Shaw take turns sleeping at each others’ houses every Monday after dance class!) Jamie’s mom Kathy and the other dance moms have become some of my best friends. My daughters Darcy and Terese have enjoyed being volunteer dance partners in a different class and helping with fundraisers.
What’s your favorite memory of being a part of the danceability family?
Maybe too many to list! Watching the girls do Thriller every Halloween in class, crying at ever blessed recital, going out to eat with the gals after, dancing at MRS Christine’s wedding, Hunter’s Hope, Golf Tournaments, having the girls speak at Charter High School for the Applied Technologies… I could go on and on. Lots of Laughs and “Happy Tears”!
Shout out to all the great volunteer dance partners especially to Lindsay Muto who has been with my Linds for many, many years! We are so blessed to have her and all the other dedicated volunteers who give of themselves every week.
Tell us some fun facts about yourself:
My 15 minutes of fame: I was on Wheel of Fortune for 3 nights in 1993

Archana Shenoy, Director
What made you want to serve on the BOD?
I was basically at the right place at the right time. I changed jobs and found myself with some free time since I didn’t have to travel anymore. I saw an opening for danceability online and came in to the studio and was hooked. I chose to serve on danceability’s board because I knew I’d get to roll up my sleeves and make a difference. 
What ties do you have to danceability?
I don’t have any ties to danceability, though I’ve enjoyed meeting our families and volunteers through the years. 
What’s your favorite memory of being a part of the danceability family?
The first recital I attended in 2014. It surpassed all my expectations and I caught a glimpse of all the hard work that went behind it. The energy was contagious that night, and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.
Tell us some fun facts about yourself:
Fun nowadays consists of hanging out with my 2-year-old son. Before he was born though, I traveled to 15 countries (mostly for work). I love music and used to go to concerts all the time. I’m trying to make it to one concert a year now (last year was Adele (amazing!!) and this year is Lady Gaga (and maybe U2)). 
It’s humbling to be on the board. The efforts that our founders, our teachers, our volunteers, our staff, our students and our families put in are inspiring.

Mukund Seshadri, Director
What made you want to serve on the BOD?
I love kids and have always wanted to be involved with an organization focused on the needs of children. I found danceability through a networking event and realized that it is one of the few organizations focused on empowering children (and adults too) with developmental disabilities through dance in our region. And when I walked into the danceability studio, it was “love at first sight.”

What ties do you have to danceability?
In addition to being a member of the board at danceability, I also volunteer at danceability. For several years now, I have been a dance partner to an amazing young man named Marshall. And when I say dance ‘partner’, I am really being generous (to myself) since Marshall is the one with all the moves. Every week, Marshall and I along with the rest of our class (4 other dancers and their volunteer partners) and our wonderful teacher, Elissa, move to our own beat. We stretch, we bounce, we drum, we dance…we basically have fun.

What is your favorite memory of being part of the danceability family?
Although I have too many to list, one of the most memorable moments that I look back with great fondness was during our dance recital a few years ago. In the middle of our dance performance, Marshall decided to do this incredible “improv” solo with some cool moves. Needless to say, the audience went wild. After the performance, Marshall gave a special shout out to his lovely mom, Renee.

Tell us some fun facts about yourself:
In no particular order, I love wine, coffee, and books. I love to travel and intend to visit all seven continents (Africa, Antarctica and Australia are pending on my bucket list). If I am not at work or at danceability, you will probably find me with a book at a coffee shop or taking a stroll around some of our parks.

Being a part of the danceability family has given me a unique perspective that constantly reminds me how not to worry about things that don’t matter. As a board member and a volunteer at danceability, having interacted with the families, I feel that that the impact is very personal. Volunteering constantly reminds me how a little gesture/thought can go a long way. As I have said before, I get WAY MORE BACK than I give.

 

Vilona Trachtenberg, Director

What made you want to serve on the BOD?
I’ve had some BOD experience through other organizations, and being in the classroom every week got me thinking that I really wanted to help the organization continue the growth it’s been part of. I love my danceability Tuesdays with my dancers in class, and I wanted to be on the other side of the organization too, the planning and strategic side. I’m so grateful to be a part of it.

What ties do you have to danceability?
I recently re-entered the world of dance, and one of the dance teachers (who became my close friend) at the studio I take classes at, always mentioned how great danceability was. Every class she would have a new story and great memories to share, and mentioned that volunteers were needed, and I didn’t look back. Now I’m finishing up my second year volunteering, and every class is even more great than the previous.

What is your favorite memory of being part of the danceability family?
The happiness of the dancers is really what does it for me. I help out in a class with some of the older students at the studio. One gentleman in the class is blind, and just always has the biggest smile on his face, bigger than I’ve ever seen on anyone. When he gets to spin the girls around in class or even take some drum sticks and drum or bounce on the exercise balls, he is the happiest person. One of my other dance partners is such a gentleman. Whenever we stretch, he always brings me a yoga mat even when I insist that I don’t need one. I thank him profusely for being so kind and polite, and he is always smiling, full of pride. It’s humbling and inspiring that we get to bring this joy to people, and there is no small gesture of kindness at the studio. Every “how are you?” and “how was your week?” to the students makes them beam and exude pure joy.

Tell us some fun facts about yourself:
I’m the biggest music junkie you’ll ever come across in your life, guaranteed. One of my dance partners also loves music, so we make sure to request Shania Twain in class, probably too often. I also love dancing (shocker), writing, traveling, exploring all the world has to offer.

The past two years with danceability have been awesome. I’m looking forward to being on the board another year, and continuing to volunteer for many years to come.

More information from our other board members (Cara Rossi (who just welcomed twins!) & Monica DiCamillo) coming soon!

My danceability story – Vilona Trachtenberg

A desire to do something new in life, a desire to further discover passions and help others. This is how danceability came into my life.

I had never really done any kind of volunteering before, besides what work provided; the idea didn’t really pop into my head, until danceability ignited that spark in me. Danceability changed my life immensely, in more ways than I could have imagined.

After a long hiatus from dancing (much to my demise), due to long nights and weekends in grad school and a little life slump of trying to start a career, there were a few rough months of just not having passion for anything. I was just going through the motions, but didn’t even know what motions those were. Post-MBA graduation, I was trying to find a job while working one I knew wasn’t meant for me, and then came home and watched Netflix every night. It wasn’t the life I wanted, and I needed something else. My mom looked at me one day and said “You really need to go back to dancing.” I found a nearby studio and the passion was reignited and I couldn’t have been happier.

I took some classes and met a great teacher there, who later became one of my close friends. During ballet class she was always cheerfully exclaiming how great danceability was, and how much she enjoyed teaching there. I loved hearing the stories of her dancers and what they were working on, on a weekly basis. She was posting great things on social media too, about the organization, and mentioned that the studio needed more volunteers.

As a result of continuously going to Meg Rutkowski’s dance classes, I had a revelation in September of 2015, that I wanted to share my passion of dance with others. I’m not the best dancer, but that doesn’t matter. Dance isn’t about being the best, it’s about the positive and uplifting head space it puts you in. My biggest push to gravitating towards danceability was hearing Meg tell me how excited all the dancers are on a weekly basis to see their volunteers. I was looking forward to that part the most, and looking back, she couldn’t have been more right.

After reaching out to Miss Robin and Miss Christine, I got the volunteer packet from danceability in the mail, took a deep breath, and took the plunge, and haven’t turned back. Of course I had my doubts, as I had never worked with the special needs population, and hoped I would be able to give my best so that the students would get the most out of the class.

My first day of class, was just like any new experience, I didn’t know what I was doing at all. I didn’t know how I was supposed to interact with the students, and teachers, and didn’t know if what I was doing made a difference. After a few weeks, and getting to know the personality of the students, the excitement really sparked, especially as we started learning our dances for the recital. I love my dance partners, and am even back with my dance partner from last year, Karen, and we just have such a great time every week. Her spunk keeps everyone entertained and she definitely has some great moves to show off during class, especially when we put in special requests to freestyle to Shania Twain.

One of my favorite moments, besides the recital and fundraisers, of course, was when I was helping out at a summer fitness class. The weekly progressions I noticed in my dancer were incredible. The first week, my dancer wasn’t lifting her legs high enough to run, and by the end of the 6 weeks she was jogging just like everyone else. I may have been at the top of my excitement that day.

Seeing these progressions and the weekly smiles and hugs I get are what keeps me coming back, and I think I can safely say that for all of the volunteers.

Classroom volunteering is the best feeling, but it wasn’t enough and I wanted to do more.

I’m on the Board of Directors now, and am always honored that I am able to help direct where this organization will be going in the future. The great personalities on the board coming together is a magical thing and we have some great ideas in the works.

Besides the dancing aspect of danceability, I need to credit danceability with making me want to do as much volunteering as possible. My 1.5 hours a week in the studio needed to turn into more. Soon after, I reached out to Make-A-Wish and American Cancer Society to see what I could do for them as well. Without danceability, I wouldn’t have made the friends I’ve made, or probably wouldn’t have had many of the experiences I’ve had over the past year. I’m grateful to this organization for instilling my passion in my dancers, and for giving me the ability to present my ideas for the future of the organization. I’m grateful for this organization for putting me on the volunteering path, and helping me meet the amazing people who I’ve come across.

I’m always excited that I get to do this on a weekly basis and am grateful to keep on dancin’.

 

 

 

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Lindsay Fassel

It’s time for another volunteer spotlight. Meet Lindsay Fassel. She has been a volunteer for the past five years and has been an incredible advocate for our dancers and our organization.
We asked Lindsay about her danceability experience…here’s what she had to say:

Why​ ​did​ ​you​ ​decide​ ​to​ ​volunteer?​ ​How​ ​long​ ​have​ ​you​ ​been​ ​volunteering? 

So,​ ​if​ ​I’m​ ​being​ ​completely​ ​honest​ ​with​ ​myself​ ​and​ ​all​ ​of​ ​you,​ ​one​ ​summer,​ ​about​ ​5​ ​years​ ​ago,​ ​I decided​ ​that​ ​I​ ​needed​ ​to​ ​boost​ ​up​ ​my​ ​resume​ ​prior​ ​to​ ​completing​ ​graduate​ ​school.​ ​​ ​I​ ​was​ ​in  search​ ​of​ ​something​ ​that​ ​would​ ​help​ ​prepare​ ​me​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​school​ ​counselor​ ​in​ ​a​ ​district,​ ​but​ ​also something​ ​that​ ​I​ ​could​ ​sink​ ​my​ ​teeth​ ​into​ ​and​ ​really,​ ​thoroughly​ ​enjoy.​ ​​ ​I​ ​always​ ​danced;​ ​from the​ ​age​ ​of​ ​3​ ​to​ ​roughly​ ​age​ ​15,​ ​though​ ​if​ ​you​ ​ask​ ​my​ ​family​ ​members,​ ​I​ ​still​ ​practice​ ​my​ ​skills through​ ​the​ ​aisles​ ​of​ ​our​ ​local​ ​grocery​ ​stores.​ ​​ ​So​ ​when​ ​I​ ​stumbled,​ ​or​ ​should​ ​I​ ​say​ ​shuffled, upon​ ​Danceability,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​truly​ ​the​ ​best​ ​of​ ​both​ ​worlds-​ ​I​ ​could​ ​rekindle​ ​my​ ​love​ ​of​ ​dance​ ​and help​ ​others​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process.​ ​​ ​I​ ​began​ ​that​ ​summer-​ ​and​ ​after​ ​volunteering​ ​for​ ​those​ ​6​ ​weeks, decided​ ​that​ ​I​ ​was​ ​too​ ​in​ ​love​ ​with​ ​this​ ​organization​ ​to​ ​leave.​ ​​ ​5​ ​recitals​ ​later​ ​and​ ​a​ ​simple resume​ ​builder​ ​has​ ​turned​ ​into​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​best​ ​decisions​ ​of​ ​my​ ​life. 

​What​ ​is​ ​your​ ​favorite​ ​part​ ​of​ ​class​ ​each​ ​week? 

The​ ​belly​ ​shaking,​ ​face​ ​reddening,​ ​tears​ ​streaming​ ​laughter​ ​we​ ​share.​ ​​ ​The​ ​joy​ ​the​ ​we​ ​cultivate when​ ​our​ ​dancer​ ​finally​ ​gets​ ​that​ ​one​ ​dance​ ​move​ ​for​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time.​ ​​ ​The​ ​ease​ ​of​ ​muscle​ ​tension as​ ​we​ ​stretch​ ​and​ ​move​ ​to​ ​some​ ​fabulous​ ​tunes.​ ​​ ​The​ ​facial​ ​discomfort​ ​that​ ​accompanies​ ​the biggest​ ​of​ ​smiles.​ ​​ ​The​ ​weekly​ ​check-ins,​ ​giggles,​ ​inside​ ​jokes​ ​and​ ​code-names.​ ​​ ​The​ ​“I​ ​missed you”​ ​when​ ​you’re​ ​out​ ​sick,​ ​the​ ​“thank​ ​you”​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​each​ ​class,​ ​the​ ​high-fives​ ​after​ ​a​ ​job well​ ​done​ ​and​ ​the​ ​hugs.​ ​​ ​You​ ​just​ ​CANNOT​ ​beat​ ​the​ ​hugs!

What​ ​would​ ​you​ ​tell​ ​potential​ ​volunteers​ ​about​ ​joining? 

What​ ​are​ ​you​ ​waiting​ ​for?  

Whatever​ ​your​ ​reason​ ​for​ ​starting,​ ​I​ ​guarantee,​ ​you​ ​won’t​ ​want​ ​to​ ​stop.​ ​​ ​Just​ ​take​ ​that​ ​first​ ​step and​ ​contact​ ​Danceability.​ ​​ ​A​ ​life​ ​changing​ ​experience​ ​awaits.  

​What​ ​is​ ​your​ ​favorite​ ​danceability​ ​memory​ ​to​ ​date? 

There​ ​are​ ​just​ ​too​ ​many​ ​to​ ​count.​ ​From​ ​recitals​ ​to​ ​Hunter’s​ ​Day​ ​of​ ​Hope​ ​performances,​ ​the​ ​Tim Tebow​ ​prom​ ​to​ ​holidays​ ​at​ ​the​ ​studio-​ ​my​ ​favorite​ ​memories​ ​have​ ​one​ ​thing​ ​in​ ​common,​ ​the smiles​ ​and​ ​laughter​ ​of​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​giving​ ​it​ ​their​ ​all,​ ​beaming​ ​with​ ​pride.

Danceability​ ​is​ ​celebrating​ ​its​ ​10th​ ​Anniversary​ ​this​ ​year​ ​-​ ​what​ ​is​ ​your​ ​hope​ ​for danceability​ ​for​ ​the​ ​next​ ​ten​ ​years? 

I​ ​hope​ ​the​ ​volunteers​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​from​ ​their​ ​dancers​ ​and​ ​give​ ​of​ ​themselves​ ​every​ ​week.

I​ ​hope​ ​board​ ​members​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​do​ ​what​ ​is​ ​in​ ​the​ ​best​ ​interest​ ​of​ ​danceability-​ ​making decisions​ ​that​ ​allow​ ​the​ ​organization​ ​to​ ​flourish;​ ​unhindered​ ​by​ ​limitations,​ ​guided​ ​by​ ​love.

I​ ​hope​ ​Robin​ ​and​ ​Christine​ ​see​ ​the​ ​sheer​ ​beauty​ ​of​ ​what​ ​they’ve​ ​build.​ ​​ ​As​ ​the​ ​backbone​ ​of​ ​this amazing​ ​organization,​ ​I​ ​wish​ ​them​ ​continued​ ​success​ ​and​ ​express​ ​my​ ​sincere​ ​gratitude​ ​on behalf​ ​of​ ​us​ ​all.​ ​​ ​You’ve​ ​allowed​ ​a​ ​space​ ​for​ ​so​ ​many​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​express​ ​themselves​ ​through movement-​ ​we​ ​repay​ ​you​ ​by​ ​wishing​ ​prosperity​ ​and​ ​longevity​ ​for​ ​another​ ​10,​ ​20,​ ​40+​ ​years!

I​ ​hope​ ​the​ ​parents​ ​of​ ​our​ ​dancers​ ​know​ ​how​ ​in​ ​awe​ ​of​ ​them​ ​we​ ​all​ ​are-​ ​for​ ​their​ ​dedication, patience,​ ​trust​ ​and​ ​unwavering,​ ​unconditional,​ ​selfless​ ​love.  

Lastly,​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​the​ ​dancers​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​make​ ​and​ ​move​ ​to​ ​their​ ​own​ ​rhythm;​ ​to​ ​the​ ​song​ ​that plays​ ​melodically​ ​in​ ​their​ ​hearts-even​ ​when​ ​no​ ​one​ ​else​ ​can​ ​hear​ ​it;​ ​carefree​ ​and​ ​with​ ​utter jubilation.​ ​May​ ​you​ ​grow,​ ​learn,​ ​thrive​ ​and​ ​DANCE​ ​with​ ​happiness,​ ​always. 
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Thank you for Lindsay and our close to 100 volunteers who work with our dancers each week in the studio. We can’t do it without all of you!
Our volunteers are so amazing, they are starting to fundraise for our Annual Performances on Saturday, May 13th. Interested in donating to help them reach our goal of $7,000?
Here’s the link: DONATE NOW

Join us at our #Cheersto10Years Gala!

We are very excited to for our first ever Gala, taking place on Saturday, April 22nd, at the Rapids Theatre. We hope you can all join us for what is going to be a beautiful and momentous occasion. With 10 years under our belts (or our dance shoes) we have so much and so many reasons to celebrate, starting with all of our dancers past and present.

We are also celebrating the leap of faith that Miss Robin and Miss Christine took back in 2007, the leap of faith that changed and enhanced the lives of so many families around the Western New York region.

We are celebrating our thriving, successful, growing, and inclusive organization.

We are celebrating the fact that with faith, perseverance, hard work, and passion, an organization such as this builds up to 10 years and paves the way for many more ahead.

We are celebrating the joy that our dancers, families, and volunteers bring to the organization and spread to each other through dance. This is just a small list of what we are celebrating, and we can’t wait to all come together to reminisce about the past years at our Gala.

The Gala will be a night full of fun, including tons of basket raffles and silent auction items to bid on, as well as amazing food stations and an open bar. The Rapids Theatre itself is a beautiful establishment, and we can’t wait for you all to see it. Also, did we mention, there is a macaroni and cheese bar?! We don’t want to give away too much though, there have to be some surprises!

We couldn’t have a danceability gala, especially a 10-year danceability gala, without dancing! Thee performances will compile some of the best pieces from over the years, featuring many of the dancers who have been with danceability for all 10 years. Danceability actually has over 30 dancers who have been with the program for the entire 10 years!

We are so thankful for the support we’ve had over the past 10 years, and really cherish and honor all our dancers, families, and volunteers who have stepped through our doors and shared the time with us. We really want to celebrate and honor all those who have been a part of our organization and we hope to see you all there!

Tickets are $75 and are still available, but will not be available at the door. We are also still looking for silent auctions if anyone is willing to donate or help with donations.
Thank you for all you do to continue making danceability a thriving organization! Please join us for what is sure to be a spectacular night!

Cheers to 10 Years! Just look at the happy faces on some of our 10-year dancers below!

Inside Miss Michelle’s classes

Miss Michelle with dancer Alex

Meet Miss Michelle. In her second year of teaching, Miss Michelle teaches our dancers with sensory needs. Prior to joining the teaching staff, Miss Michelle volunteered in the classes she now teaches. We asked Miss Michelle to give us a look at what goes on inside the Sensory Room.

Here’s what she had to say:

Why is the sensory room important?
The sensory room is important because most if not all of my dancers have special sensory needs that need to be met during class. My students need a smaller room with dim lighting and sensory stimulation to help them concentrate on activities. A typical dance studio would be overwhelming for my dancers, so this studio is wonderful!

 

What features does a sensory room have that other dance studios may not?
Our sensory studio has many components that other dance studios do not have. We have sensory equipment such as body socks, bilibo seats (we call it the turtle seat), massagers, sensory brushes, weighted blankets, a large green stretch band, trampolines, and everyone’s favorite…the bubble tube! All of these are unique items that you would not see in a typical dance studio.

 

What does a class look like for you?
All of my classes are so different from each other, so I have a different routine for each of them! Generally I start class by giving my students time to have sensory stimulation with their volunteer, whether it is deep pressure (my students love to be wrapped up like a taco!), spinning in the bilibo seat, back rubs, using massagers, or anything else they may need. I then have our class do stretches together as a group. After we stretch we bounce on balls usually with a prop like pom poms or scarves and then we bounce on balls on our bellies. After we bounce on balls, I choose activities based on the mood of my students that day and any needs I notice they may have.

My classes love “The Goldfish” song, the parachute, the green band, body socks, obstacle courses, instruments, and trampolines. Each of my class

This picture encapsulates what our program is all about.

activities are short and I alternate structured activities with sensory activities to help my dancers stay focused. The last 5 minutes of every class is when we sit around the bubble tube. My students look at the lights, get deep pressure, blow bubbles, and relax. We always end class with the dancers thanking their volunteers and saying goodbye to everyone in the room.

My students either are nonverbal or have very limited speech, so we work on basic sign language, body language, and eye contact to encourage communication. There are times where I have to make the decision to only focus on sensory activities to meet the needs of my students. The point of dance class is for the dancers to have fun, so I want to give them what they need in order to enjoy themselves!

 

What is your favorite part of class?
I love seeing when my dancers and volunteers have made a connection and built a relationship with each other. Since my students have difficulty communicating, it can be more difficult for those relationships to build. When I see my dancers visibly excited to see their volunteers and have fun with them, it makes me so happy!

 

What does a successful class look like to you?
To me, a successful class is when all of my students are happy. I frequently plan for my classes and then completely stray away from my plans because I want to meet the needs of my dancers and encourage them to have fun! Even if that means all of my dancers are doing different activities with their volunteers, I still think that class was successful because at the end of class the dancers have smiles on their faces and some of them even don’t want to leave!

 

Do you have a great success story of a dancer you have worked with for a few years?
My last class of the night consists of three young teens with autism. For the past few years we have had no routine and just had class consist of them working with their volunteers only doing sensory activities because that is what they needed. This year, I am amazed with what these kids are doing! We now have a class routine that consists of stretching, bouncing on balls, the green band, and a directional song. I’m so excited that we all do similar activities at the same time! My dancers are doing different stretches and ball activities with their volunteers based on their abilities, but to me just the fact that we are doing the same kind of activity together is HUGE! I also think this will be the first year one of the students in this class will be ready to participate in our annual performance!

Anything else important people should know about your classes?
My classes are very different from most of the other classes at danceability because often times we don’t do activities that people may think of as dance. We do a lot of creative movement activities that encourage my dancers to move their bodies and increase their attention span. I love these classes and encourage anyone who is interested to observe a class and consider volunteering with my dancers!


As an INDIVIDUALIZED dance, fitness and movement program, we are so fortunate to have Miss Michelle to assist each of her dancers in their own way. It’s a common occurrence each Thursday night to see dancers come running in (and out) the studio with huge smiles on their faces. We couldn’t think of a better outcome!

Getting to know Miss Amanda S.

Miss Amanda performing – what a beautiful shot

This year, we added Miss Amanda to our teaching staff. She teaches on Wednesday nights and also has been a great fill-in substitute for both Miss Robin & Miss Christine when they were out on their maternity leaves. We wanted you to get to know Miss Amanda better so we asked her about her dance experience, her time with us so far, and a little more about the danceability night at the Bandits game! Here’s what she had to say:

How long have you been dancing?

I have been dancing since I was 18 months old and haven’t stopped since! I started taking classes at Center Stage Dance Studio where I danced up until I graduated high school and then continued to study dance at SUNY Fredonia. I danced at Center Stage Dance Studio up until I graduated high school and moved on to college. I studied at SUNY Fredonia where I was a member of the Orchesis Dance Company and the Fredonia Dance Ensemble throughout my time there. I was able to work with amazing choreographers and professors there that have inspired me and taught me so much!

 

When did you fall in love with dance? What is your favorite type of dance?

I think that I really fell in love with dance when I had my first solo when I was 8 years old. I always loved being on stage but having my first solo really sticks out for me because thats when I found the confidence and love for performing that I continue to carry out today.  I truly love all types of dance but I would have to say my favorite to perform is contemporary and lyrical. Those are the styles that suit me best and that I really love to choreograph.

 

You are the reason our dancers had a great opportunity to perform with the Buffalo Bandettes a few weeks ago. Tell us more about the night and what was involved

This is my first year being a Buffalo Bandette and I absolutely love it! The girls inspire me to be the best I can be and I love being involved in the Buffalo community. When the opportunity came up to have the Bandettes perform with some of our danceability girls, I was thrilled. It was truly a great night for two of my passions to come together. The girls did an amazing job and I couldn’t have been more proud to perform with them in front of thousands!

 

What is your favorite dance memory?
My favorite dance memory to date would probably be finding out that one of the Fredonia Dance Ensemble pieces that I was in made it into the Gala Performance at the 2016 ACDA East Central Conference in Michigan where we were able to perform with other amazing schools in various states. They only selected 13 pieces for this performance and I was so honored and proud to be representing my school and dancing with my fellow classmates! I will remember that forever! 

Miss Amanda and our dancers (and Miss Lisa) before their performance at the Bandits game on February 25th

What have been some of your favorite parts of teaching at danceability so far?
My favorite part of classes thus far being a teacher at danceability has to be the smiles and joy that I see on my students faces when they are truly having fun and enjoying what they are doing! I love being able to share my love for dance with my students and seeing how happy they are when they hear a song that they love or are just feeling inspired by their own movements.
I love being a danceability teacher and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!
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We are thrilled to have Miss Amanda as part of the danceability family this year and look forward to seeing her Wednesday night class perform in our Annual Performances on Saturday, May 13th. If you didn’t already save the date, get it on your calendar now. More information will be coming soon.