Photo Credit: Sarasota Herald Tribune
Many of my past blogs for this site highlighted dancers with various special abilities or needs, and I’ve come to find that they all have one thing in common: people always underestimate them. These deserving individuals spend their lives being told that they are different and are sometimes looked down upon because of it. In every story I’ve highlighted though, dance was the thing that brought acceptance and passion into these people’s lives. As a competitive ballroom dancer and teacher, Sarah Haworth always longed to break down this wall for dancers with special needs, which is the exact reason she started the Dynasty Stars.
As it turned out, Haworth’s friend and fellow dancer, Colton Gannon, also acted as a full-time caregiver for a man with autism. One day, when Gannon was getting ready to go to dance class, the man asked if he could go with him. Haworth got wind of the request and gladly accepted him into the class. It was in this instance that she was inspired to start a special needs dance program. Watch this video below to find out more about Haworth and the journey that led her to begin the Dynasty Stars.
Learn more about Sarah Haworth:
The Dynasty Stars formed a few years ago with two students and has grown into a program with more than 30 students. The dancers’ conditions range from autism and Down syndrome, to epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Haworth strives to accommodate each student with routine-based teaching, where the dancers choose a piece of music they connect with and then steps are added to the song to make the dance unique. All participants learn eye contact and how to maintain a frame, along with experiencing improved social skills and coordination. Amazingly, Haworth has even seen some of her non-verbal students verbalize their love of dance.
This group has gained so much popularity that they are regularly asked to perform at various ballroom events. In fact, the organizer of the Millennium DanceSport Championships in Orlando invited them to perform an exhibition at the prestigious competition. Perhaps the best part about performing at these events is the opportunity for the participants’ parents to see their children shine. Debbie Giraldi, who has a son in the program, told the Sarasota Herald Tribune that, “It’s amazing to see the change in him socially and emotionally. It’s helped his posture and he’s a lot more self-confident. Before, he’d never talk to his peers and the other day, for the first time ever, he actually introduced himself to someone. It’s been a great, positive experience and he absolutely loves it.” Being a part of the Dynasty Stars not only teaches participants to dance, but it also emphasizes the importance of group interaction, friendships, and hard work.
Millenium DanceSport Exhibition:
Dynasty Dance Clubs in Sarasota, FL is the home of the Dynasty Stars. This studio also offers private lessons, group classes, social dancing parties, night-on- the-town events, competition training, and fitness dance classes. It also offers a junior/youth program. In terms of outreach, Dynasty Dance strives to bring ballroom dance clubs to area high schools and travels to various locations to teach dance to Alzheimer’s patients. For more information about this studio, and how it continues to share the gift of dance to people of all abilities, visit www.dynastydanceclubs.com .