Flint, MI — Lucy Davis wanted to take a slower-paced dance class for a while, but an option just didn’t exist at the FIM Flint School of Performing Arts (FSPA), where she works security, until now.
“I’ve been waiting for a class like this, but we never had one,” she said.
On Tuesday, Sept. 12, Davis attended FSPA’s new inclusive dance class, “Motion in Harmony,” designed for people who have mobility issues.
She said the class made her feel relaxed.
“It is more than just exercise for me because the first day that I went, it was wonderful. The breathing . . . it just relaxed me, I couldn’t even tell you how comfortable I felt,” she said.
Davis said classes start with a number of breathing techniques and finger and hand exercises. Students then do midsection and foot exercises, followed up with stretching, before they began dancing.
She said the exercises help her destress, which she normally takes medication to do.
“I take pills for stress and anxiety and what [the class] did for me, I felt so relaxed when I came from out of here that day, it was great,” she said.
Janelle Ballard, the music therapy department chair at FSPA, said her department wanted to expand its offerings beyond voice and instrument classes, which sparked the idea for inclusive dance.
Further, Ballard said, she also wanted to make sure the dance classes were accessible to all.
“We just want to make sure that there are opportunities for folks in Genesee County with disabilities, that they are well-represented and that they have lots of recreational opportunities available to them,” she said.
To achieve that goal, Ballard said she connected with Tara Holliman, a health and recreation specialist, through the Disability Network, an advocate group for inclusion and accessibly in Michigan.
Now, Holliman teaches the Motion in Harmony classes.
While Holliman teaches multiple dance styles, including jazz, ballet, hip hop and modern dance, Ballard said, “it’s more about feeling comfortable with your body and celebrating your body than learning a specific dance style.”
Motion in Harmony dance classes take place Mondays and Tuesdays at the Flint School of Performing Arts, with time and day determined by dancers’ ages:
- Ages 5-10: 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. on Mondays
- Ages 11-17: 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Mondays
- Ages 18+: 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays
According to a FIM press release on Sept. 18, there is room for up to 12 people per class, which will run weekly through the end of October 2023.
The first Motion in Harmony classes took place on Sept. 11. However, registration is still open and class costs will be pro-rated. To register, visit FIM’s website.