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NEW YORK — “My whole life is a mommy and me program, and given my daughter’s disability, the rest of my life is most likely going be a mommy and me program,” Natalie Armoza said.
Natalie’s daughter, Pearl, has Cerebral Palsy.
When Natalie saw there were workshops for children to dance with dancers of the New York City Ballet, she was immediately interested in signing her daughter up.
“I really would have loved to have done one of those with Pearl, but I didn’t want her to be the focus of other people’s stares or comments,” Armoza said. “I wanted to really protect her from that.”
So she reached out to the Ballet and requested that they host separate workshops for kids with disabilities.
“It would mean so much to my daughter and children like her to be able to take part in a New York City Ballet workshop, and for one day, feel like they too could become ballerinas,” the email read.
To her amazement, the NYC Ballet, with the help of Cerebral Palsy specialist Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky, set up four workshops at Lincoln Center for Pearl and other kids like her.
Nineteen children with disabilities were able to dance alongside principal dancers from the New York City Ballet.
“I see parents are always holding, literally holding, their children up or pulling them out of a wheelchair. And when I can see them sitting and seeing their child be independent, I get emotional,” Natalie said.
The workshops were a hit.
“When I see Maggie dance, I can really see her heart. I see joy and that, for a parent, is just the best,” Debra Saum said.
“Maria and I had not been prepared for how connected we would feel immediately with the group of kids that we had,” principal dancer Adrian Danchig-Waring said. “In fact, we had under-prepared for how energetic, enthusiastic, and physically capable these kids turned out to be.”