Moving beyond disabilities
Graduate student teaches adaptive ballet for disabled children
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 01:10
Every class starts off on the floor where students of all ages and capabilities are on an equal footing. Once they get up and start moving around, Marrero teaches ballet techniques that focus on the upper torso, an area all of the students have control over.
“One position is the one where you have your arms out in front of you in a circular position,” she said. “Anyone can do that whether you are sitting in a wheel chair on standing up, any kid can associate with putting a big round ball in their belly and hugging it.”
After the session, students have time for free play and a time to be creative.
The studio began with two students, but is quickly expanding with children coming from around Tampa and the university community. In the seven months it has been open, Quinones said the number of students has increased to 26.
In addition to her adaptive ballet class, Marrero is hoping to begin teaching a cheerleading class as soon as enough students have signed up for the class.
“With ballet, I can’t give them much leeway. I can’t let them jump around and do whatever they want because that’s not ballet,” she said. “Ballet is a lot about discipline associated with that even though they are (young) girls… In the cheerleading class I can take a step back from that. By all means, be creative, dance around and scream — it’s cheerleading.”
Quinones said she admires the way Marrero is able to interact with the children during these times and show genuine interest in their lives.
“She has a genuine curiosity and friendship in the way she relates to the children,” Quinones said. “They love her because she can get down to their specific level and emotional ability. I can see that she genuinely cares about them and remembers their favorite colors and things like that.”
Marrero said the connection she makes with the students on an emotional level is one of best parts of her job.
“Some of the girls will tell me about their day or boys they like in their class, so we develop this relationship that, I think, is the most genuine kind of relationship,” she said. “They genuinely love me and I love them.”