QUEENS, N.Y. - Step by step, kids in Long Island City learn the power of dance, thanks to Rebecca Elbogen. She's a classically-trained ballet dancer who is now using her years of experience to teach kids with special needs ballet.
"Dance can have a reputation of being a little bit closed off or a little rigid or hard to access. But the whole point of our organization is to challenge that,” Elbogen said.
Elbogen runs "Ballet for All Kids." She first volunteered for the organization nearly a decade ago while she was a high school student in Los Angeles.
Now she runs the non-profit's first satellite office here in New York where she teaches an adaptive curriculum for children with disabilities.
"Dance has numerous benefits beyond just the physical, especially with children of all abilities and disabilities, some of the benefits can be really astounding and surprising and unexpected," Elbogen added.
Aside from learning the moves, Elbogen says kids also gain confidence, motor and social skills during every class. They're paired one-on-one with volunteer instructors. Kids also work closely with one another, learning a new lesson with every new dance move.
"I love that the class is so many types of kids, so many different types of abilities,” Maryann Jacob said, whose child is in the class. “I think that's really important for my kid to know that we don't live in a vacuum and that our world is diverse and this class really exhibits that."
A welcoming and inclusive environment is what Elbogen strives for, and what she says contributes most to each students' success.
"Seeing the progression, the transformation of so many of these students in their own unique way is really motivating and an incredibly fulfilling experience," Elbogen said.
So for making dance accessible to children of all abilities, Rebecca Elbogen is our New Yorker of the Week.