Gainesville Ballet has moved into new digs, increasing its space, and adding voice, piano and extreme barre fitness classes to the comprehensive dance offerings and performances at the Hylton.
Now, the organization has just recently learned it has received nonprofit status, which allows the studio to offer so much more for students.
In addition an adaptive dance class that will bring access to children of all abilities is now being offered.
Though Gainesville Ballet has integrated students with special needs into existing programs, the new class will “provide a focused environment” for students and will have a low instructor-student ratio at no more than 5:1 or 3:1 which will give children more individual attention than in a class with 12 students to 1 instructor.
Lauren Loomis, director of communications, says that the class will give children more support and will be better suited for their individual needs
The facility is wheelchair accessible and they hope to be able to serve children of all physical abilities as well.
Onica Hobbs, who has been with the ballet school since 2011 and has vast experience dancing in various productions, will take on the lead instructor role in the class.
Hobbs says she was inspired to work with children with special needs as her mother was a special education teacher and she insists it has just been a part of her life.
Hobbs has a gift for working with young children, according to Loomis and Elysabeth Muscat, executive director.
She has a warm way of making children feel welcome and teaching them with grace. and will be a great fit for the class. Muscat and Loomis agree that “she has a genuine rapport with children” and enjoys teaching and students respect her and “love her.” In addition, she has recently been trained by Casper Minds, a consulting firm which specializes in the field of special education.
Hobbs is “really excited” about the class. She loves dancing and says the studio feels like her “home” and she wants to give all children a “small piece of that.”
She says it is important to ensure instruction is individual and each child has the opportunity to learn the best way for him or her. She says the instructors will be using a lot of things to help children with transitions and socialization as well as rewards.
Hobbs enjoys the time with dancers have a “light-bulb” moment and learn how to do something and makes them so happy.
Hobbs is thrilled and thinks the class will be “wonderful.” She says her mother is “thrilled” that her daughter will be teaching it as she is genuinely patient and enjoys younger children.
Hobbs with be supported in class by Mallory Miller, who is new to the studio, but comes with a great dance resume as well as studying DanceAbility through college courses.
The class will begin as a six-week class on Wednesday mornings at 11 a.m. Parents can sign their children up online.