Dance Academy Offers Unique Class for Children With Special Needs


BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) — One local dance class is giving children with special needs an opportunity to shine.

For Melissa Bartel’s daughter, Cassidy, dancing is her favorite thing in the world.

“There’s nothing better than to see your child joyful and happy,” Bartel said. “She can just come here and be free and dance and not worry about anything else in the world. She can be in the worst mood and that will perk her up and change her day.”

For 45 minutes every Friday, Cassidy comes to Kaleidoscope Dance Academy for the highlight of her week. 

“Just to watch her have so much fun and meet new friends. She just loves it,” Bartel said.

The Dancers with Heart program began two years ago, starting with one class. Through word of mouth, the class has grown into four classes and it’s free.

Molly Summerlin is the director of Dancers with Heart.

“It ranges from age 2 to this year we have a 68 year old man taking a class, so it ranges completely all across the board,” Summerlin said.

She says there’s no label for this type of class. “Whether it’s ballet or hip-hop, or whatever, we cater to that and they love it. Sometimes it’s a mix of all three. Sometimes it’s ten different genres in one.”

But no matter what routine the class decides to run with, these kids are here for the love of dance.

“I think it’s been inspiring a lot of people in Northwest Arkansas, and that’s really cool to see that the community has banded together for that,” Summerlin said.

“To have that here this is an amazing gift we need to take advantage of,” Bartel said.

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