United Dance, Dance for individuals with Down syndrome
United Dance Logo.jpg

Program

 
 

A made to measure program

A unique course

Founded by international ballet dancer Boris Richir, United Dance provides dance programs specifically designed to meet the unique needs of individuals with Down syndrome.

United Dance aims to share the love of dance and foster creativity by providing high quality, engaging, and thoughtfully designed programming in a structured, safe environment where individuals with Down syndrome and their families can be unequivocally themselves and experience the joy of dance to the fullest. Through dance, students can strengthen their self-expression, confidence, artistry, social, and leadership skills as well as build their strength, balance, coordination, and motor skills.

All classes are taught by a professional dancer who is trained in teaching dance to specialized populations. The teacher is supported by an assistant teacher, a musician, and a physical therapist or health care professional.

After a class, my daughter feels liberated, happy and relaxed
— Parent, United Dance Summer course Antwerp 2018

Specialized curriculum in a supportive environment

In order to ensure that classes are fully accessible and enjoyable for students with Down syndrome, United Dance utilized a specialized curriculum that addresses social, emotional, physical, and artistic growth. While the goal of United Dance is not to replace physical therapy or medical assistance, participants typically experience benefits that support their development outside of the studio.

Thoughtful programmatic features include:

  • Classes keep the same order to create routine and stability

  • Instruction is supported through visual aids and imagery

  • Learning is promoted through repetition and imagination

  • Classes use multiple activities and pacing to keep attention and focus

  • Assistant teachers and support staff offer individualized support as needed and ensure the physical and emotional safety of students

  • Warm up is done sitting on a chair and not on the floor, to protect hips and avoid exertion

  • Movement focuses on muscle development and body strengthening rather than increasing flexibility to address hypermobility

  • Repetitive neck exercises and those that put weight on the head are avoided

  • Classes encourage collaboration and social interaction with fellow students and adults

  • The instructional approach allows for students to participate and engage in their own way, at their own pace, and with their own goals in mind

Class structure

Every class is 60 minutes and taught by a professional dance teacher trained in teaching dance to specialized populations. The teacher is accompanied by:

  • a musician

  • a physical therapist or health care professional

  • a teachers assistant

Classes keep to a consistent schedule that includes:

  • Warm-up: Preparing for movement with body isolations while establishing orientation and focus for class

  • Chair work: Developing posture, alignment, strength, balance and stability by practicing non-locomotor movement with opportunities for personal development (leadership and creativity)

  • Floor Work: Traveling work, practicing locomotor movement, patterns and pathways, developing coordination, laterality and balance

  • Music Work: Developing sense of rhythm, patterns, dynamics by recognizing musical cues and identifying the relationship between music, expression and emotions

  • Routine Work: Practicing movement combinations and choreography with opportunities for free dance, creativity and self expression while building community, relationships and sense of efficacy

  • Cool down - Reorienting to leave class and establishing trust and predictability

The Team is caring and interracted with their students in an adult and patient manner, they clearly have a lot of experience working with individuals with down syndrome
— Parent, United Dance Summer course Antwerp 2018

Learning objectives

  • Increase focus and enjoyment of movement

  • Improve posture, balance and alignment

  • Attend to and follow directions

  • Enhance creative self-expression

  • Increase knowledge of music and rhythm

  • Participate with a group and perhaps enhance their own self-confidence

  • Cooperate with, lead and encourage peers

  • Distinguish right from left

  • Explore dance concepts and have opportunities to discover, explore, and create movement using these elements

  • Explore performance in studio and in front of an audience

UNITED DANCE team

The United Dance team consists of dedicated and passionate professionals including professional dancers, teachers, musicians, health care professionals and specialists in inclusive dance, all trained in teaching dance to specialized populations and at the top of their respective fields.

OUR HISTORY

Founded in 2018, United Dance is modeled after the successful Boston Ballet Adaptive Dance program for individuals with Down syndrome. Boston Ballet Adaptive Dance originated in 2002 from a close collaboration between the Boston Ballet and Boston Children's Hospital. United Dance aims to expand this model on an international level to help ensure that all individuals can enjoy exceptional dance classes in a safe and accessible environment. The United Dance team consists of renowned professionals in their respective fields (professional ballet dancers, musicians and physiotherapists) who have been trained in inclusive dance. United Dance is supported by a team of healthcare professionals, dance teachers and specialists in inclusive dance in order to constantly improve their classes and keep offering dance education at the highest possible level.

Participants and team, United Dance Summer course Antwerp 2018

Participants and team, United Dance Summer course Antwerp 2018

 
Throughout my career I have been lucky to work at the highest possible level. I am passionate about bringing that experience to the participants of United Dance.
— Boris Richir, Director Europe