As Cinderella readies to attend a royal ball, she isn’t alone. Cinderella has all sorts of collaborators — from fairy godmother with magic wand to spirited mice with sewing needles.
In the Ballet Academy of Arizona production of “Cinderella,” which takes place Sat, Oct 8 (2pm and 5pm) at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix, all are dancers.
Some just happen to be living with cerebral palsy, a condition affecting the brain and nervous system that can impact movement, learning, hearing, seeing and more.
The dancers number about 100, according to Tom Bossmeyer, an ardent supporter of the group who says about half are “typical” while half live with “special needs” such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism and learning delays.
In addition to presenting several productions each year, the Ballet Academy of Arizona teaches dance classes for children ages 3-18 using the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus. Students pay separate fees for classes and productions.
Shortly after rehearsals began, Caroline Atkinson described the experience as “an unforgettable journey filled with lessons and moments of sheer joy.” Atkinson is founder, CEO and artistic director of the Phoenix-based academy.
Bossmeyer says the collaboration of adults, children with “special needs” and “typical” children involved in their productions “blurs the line of who is the student and who is the teacher.”
Armando Contreras, CEO and president of UCP of Central Arizona describes “Cinderella” as a life experience rather than mere entertainment. “This,” reflects Contreras, “is a glowing example of how these children with perceived obstacles are living life to the fullest and contributing in a very significant way to our community.”
Coming up: A dance dad muses about “Dance Moms,” A view from Vietnam