Danceability takes a leap of faith with expansion
Molly Furminger spent an hour stretching, twisting and turning Monday night at the new and expanded Danceability studio – and why not? The 5-year-old with Down syndrome also regularly camps, swims and skis.
“Her mom and dad let her try everything,” said Molly’s grandmother, Judy Ferrentino, who, like Molly, lives in Clarence.
It’s an approach that dance studio co-founders Robin Bishop and Christine Dwyer have seen change since they started Danceability in 2007 for children and adults with special needs.
“These kiddos don’t realize there’s stuff they wouldn’t have been able to do just a few years ago, that the older kids and adults wouldn’t have done,” Bishop said. “Now, it’s like, ‘I go to dance. Why wouldn’t I go to dance? I love it.’”
Danceability has operated largely out of the spotlight since it opened in a Union Road plaza a short drive from its new site, a former floral shop at 2367 George Urban Blvd. in Depew. The new digs opened last month in a 5,100-square-foot space more than twice the size of its former home.
The move allowed the nonprofit enterprise to erase its waiting list of 20 would-be dancers and make room for even more. It also created a challenge the founders hope the community can help them solve. The new studio cost $300,000 to create. A fundraising campaign so far has raised $130,000. There will be an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday for those who would like to sign up for classes, volunteer to guide a dancer and donate. Learn more at danceabilityinc.com or by calling 651-0094.
Bishop, 39, a social worker and married mother of three, became executive director of Danceability in 2010. She and Dwyer, a Kenmore special education teacher, raised funds through friends and family to open their first studio more than a decade ago with 60 dancers and 40 volunteers. Danceability today has 160 dancers, 100 volunteers and 10 part-time paid instructors, the latter of whom all have dance training and backgrounds in the helping fields.
“We have dancers from ages 3 to 70, boys, girls, men and women,” Bishop said. “We have a variety of dancers with autism. We have a good number of people with Down syndrome. Then we get people with rare diseases and rare disorders. We have a lot of people in wheelchairs. Some people use walkers.”
Dancers come once a week from September through May. They learn a variety of skills – tap, jazz, ballet and creative movement – all in one class. “Everybody gets a little taste of everything and what they do best becomes their recital routine,” Bishop said. A larger waiting room, which includes a sensory section, also allows loved ones to stay and chat, unless they decide to head out for a little free time.
Robin Bishop led the Danceability move into a new, larger studio.