OKC Ballet outreach gives special needs kids a ‘Chance to Dance’

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OKLAHOMA CITY - They might be some of the last people you'd expect to don leotards and ballet slippers.

Teachers like Stephanie Pitts tell us some of these kids' own parents didn't think the children in this class could ever jump or dance until they saw in for themselves.

"After every class we have those kinds of comments and feedback," she says. "It's wonderful."

Coordinators at the Oklahoma City Ballet call this class 'Chance to Dance', throwing open doors and facilities at the Susan E Barrett Dance Center to a dozen or so developmentally challenged kids, including Ryker Yelton.

While more accomplished students practice next door, the parents of these kids, including Ryker's mom Amber, watch every move in this studio because they see their children doing things they've never done before.

Amber says, "He sways back and forth to the music. He seems more comfortable and more happy, and he seems to connect with it a lot more."

Amber Robinson is a professional dancer, having devoted her life to ballet.

But she donates her Saturday mornings for a special reason.

Her own brother is on the autism spectrum.

Seeing someone like Ryker respond to something she loves makes this work better than a standing ovation.

Robinson insists, "There's definitely a change in their personalities that start to come out. There's a spark that you start to see. It's such a magical feeling."

The class lasts six weeks, but the doors that open, the light that lets in for teachers, students, and observers too, is the sun that music and dance create together.

For more information about Chance to Dance or other outreach programs run through the Oklahoma City Ballet go to https://www.okcballet.org/

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