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Montreal Families

Dance studio welcomes kids with special needs

Young children are often eager to explore their world by dancing, singing songs or drawing pictures. Now, Montreal holistic therapist Valerie Sabbah has started a dance program for kids that taps into their natural attraction to the arts.

Sabbah, who for the past nine years has run The Way Through — a yoga and therapy centre in St. Henri that caters to children who have psychological or physical challenges, also wanted to draw on her training in ballet, improvisational dance and performance. So she and dancer/choreographer Mika Lior opened Espace OSupa in Montreal’s Mile End area, which offers dance and yoga classes for adults and children, including those with special needs.

Young participants will be encouraged to explore all styles of dance with an emphasis on self-development and self-esteem. “Our classes will be very eclectic,” Sabbah says, with kids trying modern and contemporary dance, capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian form of martial arts and dance), ballet as well as breathing techniques and stretching.

Sabbah adds that the young dancers will also create and direct a performance. They will choose the title, do the choreography, assemble costumes and design the lighting.

Classes called “Creative Dance and Performance” for children ages 4-12 will be held on Saturday mornings. There is also a class for teens ages 13-17 on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Little ones ages 18 months to 3 years and their caregivers can enjoy dance, storytelling and theatre on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Finally, a class in capoeira for children ages 4-6 will be offered on Mondays from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sessions run for 12 weeks and cost $125 if you register before Sept. 14 (after that the cost goes up to $140). Classes start the week of Sept. 14. On Sept. 13 and 14, there will be an open house at OSupa from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with free classes and opportunities to register.

Sabbah, who has helped children who have undergone physical or psychological trauma as well as children with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and Tourette’s syndrome, will continue to offer individual and family therapy at both her St. Henri studio and OSupa.

Espace OSupa is located at 185 Van Horne, Suite #3 (corner De l’Esplanade Ave.). For more information or to register, email espaceOSupa@gmail.com, call (514) 220-5301 or visit www.espaceosupa.com.

For information on The Way Through studio, call Valerie Sabbah at (514) 220-5301 or visit www.thewaythrough.ca.

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