Have you ever had an experience that totally takes you out of your head and drops you right down into your heart? Where it feels like your heart is literally melting? No, I am not talking about a romantic relationship...I’m talking about dance. In particular, teaching dance to special needs kids. I don’t think there could possibly be a more rewarding and heart-warming experience then witnessing children with disabilities to find the joy in movement and dance. Words cannot explain the fulfillment and satisfaction that emerge when you see them smiling and forgetting about their disability through immersing them in movement, imagination, and beautiful music.
Part of my “credentials” in offering this class is my experience with my younger brother, Logan, who is autistic. Growing up with a special-needs little brother has been a major part of my life, yet it never seemed weird or odd to me, because that’s all I knew. My brother Logan needs help to do simple things we take for granted- and yet, he is here on this Earth with a very powerful mission.
I believe that one part of his mission is to unite my family (my parents, older sister, Logan, and myself) and bring us closer. When someone in your family is special-needs, suddenly everyone joins together in support. My family is incredibly close, despite us all living spread out in New York, California, and Hawaii. We are each other’s number one fans and support system, and I believe this is largely due to Logan’s unique presence in our family.
From a very early age, Logan has taught me compassion. I went to school on the upper east side of Manhattan, where judging one another based on money, clothes, friends, looks, etc. was absolutely the norm- starting in the 4th grade! Having a brother with a disability gave me a constant reality-check. I realized the value of life itself, of being able to speak and communicate, and was less quick to judge others. On the subways, when I would see people with disabilities, instead of going into judgement and fear, I felt compassion and understanding. I am positive that if it weren’t for Logan, I would be a much more superficial person! And, I probably wouldn’t have created a special needs dance class in Hawaii!
So, that’s my personal story to share with you today. I hope it brings you a taste of that heart-warming feeling and reminds you that even what appears as an obstacle can be your greatest gift!
* In 2013, I choreographed a dance piece, incorporating live singing and speaking, about my brother Logan, and it was performed in NYC. You can watch it below. Performers are Courtney Ramm (dancer/choreographer), Leandra Ramm (opera singer), Adrienne Ramm (dancer/actress), and Bita Bell (dancer). Enjoy!