When mom, Abby, began looking for a dance class for her oldest daughter, Hattie, who has a rare chromosomal disorder, she couldn't find any classes for kids of all abilities. Not to be deterred, Abby and her friend Laura began brainstorming.
Both Laura and Abby realized their love for dance at an early age. Abby was on the drill team in high school, majored in Dance in college, where she danced on her school's pom squad, and after graduation, she became an NFL cheerleader and taught children's ballet classes. Laura, who lives in Texas, followed a similar dance path.
Naturally, it didn't take them long to create their own dance team for children of all abilities. Harmony Dance Team kicked off practice for their first teams in Fall 2021. Unlike a dance class, these dancers are a performance dance team; they practice to perform at events. They are the only group like this in the Denver Metro Area.
"It's not super common in the public that you see kids all working together, but I think it's where our generation is kind of moving towards, and we hope that it can just grow into that," said Abby.
The children learn from each other and grow as a team. Abby has watched each of the dancers form sweet friendships.
"I wanted other kids to have the opportunity to be around kids with special needs…it's been a bit of a challenge to get more typically developing kids in our program, but it's slowly happening," said Abby.
With almost 20 dancers, the first year has been a huge hit. Abby has several volunteers who assist the dancers while learning and performing their routines. Abby recalls seeing growth in confidence in the dancers and the volunteers. One of Abby's most significant rewards is the relationships and bonding between the dancers, volunteers, and the parents.
"There is a strong community. We're all here for our kids, but it's nice to see friendships form with the parents, too," said Abby.
Laura and Abby constantly collaborate on making each dance more inclusive and exciting for the dancers and the audience. It can be challenging at times to figure out which dance moves or formations will fit the group and all their abilities, but seeing each in their little sparkly jackets with their pom-poms, in the end, is all worth it.
Currently, Harmony Dance Team has two locations, one in Littleton and another in East Texas. The goal is to expand nationally. Learn more about the dance team at www.harmonydanceteam.com/. Watch their first performance here.