MADISON, NJ - School of Performing Arts (SOPA) of the Madison Area YMCA is excited to announce that registration is now open for DanceAbilities, an inclusive, innovative rhythm & hip hop program based on the groundbreaking Rhythm Works Integrative Dance Program, for children 3-14 years old with learning differences and special needs. DanceAbilities is a 10-week class that focuses on skill development, self-empowerment and celebrating differences. 

Classes start Mon., Jan. 27. 

Y instructors certified in Rhythm Works Integrative Dance teach DanceAbilities. Certification provides instructors with the knowledge of how to teach rhythm and dance to children with special needs through evidence-based principles from occupational therapy, physical therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy and speech therapy. 

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Children enrolled in DanceAbilities participate in an in-studio showing for family members, SOPA students and teachers at the end of each 10-week session.

“We are thrilled to offer DanceAbilities, a spectacular program that meets children where they are, helps them improve their skills and feel good about themselves,” said Madison Area YMCA Associate SOPA Director Courtney Crerand. “When children dance, they hold their heads higher, walk with poise and gain self-confidence. At SOPA, we believe that everyone should have the ability to participate in performing arts programming and feel welcomed, no matter what their ability is.”

“Teaching dance to students of all abilities is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Cheryl Downey, a SOPA of the Madison Area YMCA DanceAbilities instructor. “I’m so proud to see our students learning new moves, making new connections, and most importantly having fun with their peers.”

Tommy Russell, a 6-year-old pop and hip hop music enthusiast who enjoys dancing with his siblings, is a DanceAbilities student.

“Knowing that it would be difficult for Tommy to keep up with the fast-paced routine of his siblings' hip hop class, I enrolled him in DanceAbilities,” said his mom Patty Russell. “He looks forward to attending class each Saturday. It is gratifying to watch Tommy build upon the sequenced moves each week, while listening to his favorite fun tunes and working at his own pace,” she said, noting how thankful she is that the Y is offering the program. “Y staff members have been encouraging, solicitous and wonderful!" 

"What makes DanceAbilities unique is that as instructors we are educated about and invested in our students' challenges and goals,” said Jen Gregory, a SOPA of the Madison Area YMCA DanceAbilities instructor. “Whether a child is working on the motor skills to ride a bike, the speech skills to master the 'b' sound, or the social skills to connect with others, we tailor our curriculum to help them succeed individually and as a group.”

For more information about DanceAbilities, visit or call Madison Area YMCA Associate SOPA Director Courtney Crerand at 973.822.9622 x2267. 

As a mission-driven nonprofit, the Madison Area YMCA is dedicated to empowering young people to reach their full potential, improving individual and community well-being, and providing support and inspiring action in our communities.