By Mark Hallum
Dancers and parents filled seats in the auditorium of Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center for a different kind of dance performance last week.
Dancing Dreams is a non-profit for children with disabilities who want to grace the stage with their moves. With the assistance of high school helpers, they have the ability to do this. Dance programs from Bayside High School offered their students a chance to inspire the Dancing Dreams boys and girls between sets with their own performances May 4.
Joann Ferrara, a pediatric physical therapist with offices on Bell Boulevard, founded Dancing Dreams in 2008 after trying to find a dance studio which would accept one of her clients with cerebral palsy who wanted to take a swing at ballet. After searching, however, Ferrara found there were no dance instructors who would take on a student with disability. She then decided to start her own program, which resonated with children hoping to fulfill their dreams of being dancers.
The performance at Clearview was a repeat of an April Dancing Dreams show, which drew a crowd of about 1,000 people at York College in Jamaica.
“It’s such a nice collaborative event between Bayside High School and Dancing Dreams,” Ferrara said. “We have the teenagers here every single week volunteering and it’s incredible. They’re amazing.”
There are currently 100 dancers in the program, which has partnered with 135 high schools across the city.
For the high school helpers, Dancing Dreams is a structured leadership program in which each is assigned to a dancer.
The show opened with a routine to the theme song of “The Flintstones” TV show and featured one of the few boys in the program, Roman, who dressed as a dinosaur for the performance. Roman’s mother, Roz Goldstein, has been with the program from the early days.
“Most of the kids are what we call ‘mainstream,’ so they go to a normal school, but here they have friends because a lot of the kids [at school] don’t invite them over to their house,” Roz said. “Here they socialize.”
Bayside’s Bollywood dancers captivated the Dancing Dreams performers who were in awe as they brought their talent to the stage to move to songs popular in the subcontinent.
The Bayside High School cheerleaders also showed off one of their routines.
Dancers in the program can engage in classes at Clearview Senior Center or at Ferrara’s other facility in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall