Dance offered for students with special needs

Published 9:17 pm Friday, October 26, 2018

Participants who loved Night to Shine no longer have to wait until February to hit the dance floor saved just for them.

Becky Rognes, who coordinates Albert Lea’s Night to Shine, said students wanted more.

“‘I wish we could do this more often’ is something that was overheard many times at the Night to Shine,” Rognes said via email. “Working together with First Lutheran Church and The Arc, we decided to make that happen.”

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The dance, called Rock the Night, is advertised as a toned-down Night to Shine. The event, held specifically for students age 14 to 21 with special needs, is from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday at Edgewater Bay Pavilion. It will involve games, pizza, music and dancing, including an evolution of dance teaching session with The Meraki Studios owner Holly Karsjens.

“I’ve done something similar to this before, but the evolution of dance is such a fun — you know, there’s a lot of different mixes you can do,” she said. “… Hopefully they’ll think it’s just as cool and as fun as I do.”

Karsjens said she hopes the session is an opportunity for children to step outside the box.

“Sometimes being on a dance floor is a little nerve-wracking or it’s not something they’ve done before, and that’s for anybody, so if I can somehow empower somebody a little bit and have some fun doing something they haven’t done before, I guess that’s kind of my personal goal teaching any dance,” she said.

Rognes’ daughter, Lindsey, is a teenager with special needs. According to Becky Rognes, her daughter encourages her to help plan these events to bring her classmates — those with and without special needs — together for things students enjoy whether they have special needs or not. Those who would like to attend Rock the Night can RSVP to Rognes at 507-383-4062.

According to Karsjens, the event is an opportunity to think about how community offerings can be more inclusive.

“I think inclusivity is super important, especially for the arts community,” she said. “You know, sometimes it’s really easy to say, ‘Well, the majority can be involved in this activity, so let’s offer this,’ and you don’t think about, you know, how many don’t necessarily fit into either ability-wise or comfort-wise. … I think it’s sometimes easy or, I guess, just the go-to to automatically say we’re serving the majority of the population and we’re happy for that. I think there’s a need to make sure we’re serving the whole community.”

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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