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Montreal Families

Dance classes offered for those with special needs

Dance classes are an excellent way for teens and adults of all abilities to develop their self-esteem, improve their skills, increase their confidence, and have fun. If you’re looking for a safe environment filled with enthusiasm, movement, and creativity, Studio J in Montreal’s West Island offers an inclusive dance program for kids 12 and over, and adults with special needs.

Studio J owner Jodi Thiboutot, a former Integration Aide with a B.A. in Psychology, created the program in 2012 after seeing a lack of activities being offered to the special needs community.

“Dance has been proven to improve balance, posture, strength, motor skills, and flexibility,”  Thiboutot says. “In addition, it increases confidence, self-expression, and social interaction. It is also an excellent stress reliever.”

At Studio J, simple choreography is taught each week to popular songs the dancers know and love. Dance sessions aim to improve students’ coordination and flexibility, and develop social skills while part of a group. At the end of each session, their hard work is showcased during a performance in front of an audience of friends and family, with some dancers creating solos.

Photo credit: Studio J

Everyone has a chance to shine

Thiboutot says she is proud of her dancers and their inspiring stories. Lindsay has been dancing with Studio J for over seven years and has Hemiparesis, which is muscle weakness on one side of the body. “As time progressed, we noticed that her ability to raise her arm improved quite substantially and her mother said that dance motivated her to want to use her arm more. As a result, Lindsay now performs her dances with a lot more mobility, strength, and flexibility. She incorporates a lot of arm movements in her solos, which demonstrates incredible progress.”

When Charlotte attended her first class six years ago, she huddled behind her mother, carefully watching the dancers. “She was so nervous and shy that her mother didn’t know if she would want to join the team,” Thiboutot said. “But not only did she want to join us, but she was also incredibly excited, and it was something she looked forward to every week. As the years went on, Charlotte went from the back row to the front. And as her confidence increased, she began to raise her head up and smile more.” With classes that offer the opportunity to make friends, build social skills, confidence, and self-esteem, Charlotte has now performed her own solo that she created herself. “Her journey has been quite an incredible one.”

Registration is open

After a winter session that saw the dancers staying connected through Zoom classes, this fall’s session will once again be held in person with sessions spanning 12 weeks.

Classes for students 12 and older begin in October and are held Monday and Friday evenings at the Kirkland Arena, 16950 Hymus Blvd.
Registration is open and places are limited. Class visits are welcome. Simply email to schedule a day that works for you.

For more information, email studiojdance.co@gmail.com or call 514-835-5227.


Related Read: New centre for kids with special needs


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