Ashburn Academy of Dance to Launch Program for Special Needs Dancers

Ashburn Academy of Dance to Launch Program for Special Needs Dancers


Now in its sixteenth year, Ashburn Academy of Dance owners Anne Marie Kimmell and Katie Beliveau are continually looking for ways to expand and offer new opportunities to the community.

This fall, they have partnered to bring Darby’s Dancers, a non-profit, nation-wide, free program for special needs children to their studio. Darby’s Dancers was founded by the parents of Darby Jones, who was born with Down syndrome and found great joy in dancing. Through fundraising efforts, the Darby’s Dancers program enables special needs children to participate with tuition, costumes and dance shoes provided to them at no cost. Each dancer in the program will be paired with an Ashburn Academy of Dance dancer during the classes.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring Darby’s Dancers to our studio,” Kimmell said in a release. “Parents of special needs children have dealt with so much after receiving a diagnosis, and in many cases parents have to readjust what their hopes and dreams are for their children’s future. A program like this can restore a parent’s lost dream. Seeing their children onstage is so rewarding.”

At the weekly classes, Darby’s Dancers learn different types of dance in a fun, encouraging atmosphere. Two Ashburn Academy of Dance instructors, Colleen Giardina and Katie Hooper, will be teaching the Darby’s Dancers classes this fall. The classes will help build confidence, coordination, strength and lifelong friendships in a nurturing environment. Youth volunteers will also learn valuable lessons in responsibility and friendship by being involved.

“My husband Patrick and I wanted to honor our daughter Darby’s legacy after she passed away from leukemia in 2013. Dancing, performing and being with her friends brought Darby so much joy. We wanted to bring that joy and happiness to as many children with special needs as possible,” Darby’s Dancers founder Valerie Jones said in a release. “We are excited that Ashburn Academy of Dance is bringing this program to their studio this fall so that we can help other children dance with abandon, make new friends, learn new skills and have the chance to be the part of a dance family.”

Ashburn Academy of Dance offers classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary and aerial skills classes. They are currently accepting enrollment for summer and fall classes. They also offer classes in Purcellville at the Carver Center.

“We think this program beautifully aligns with our motto here, ‘Making great dancers… Making great people!’ We couldn’t be happier to enrich the lives of more members of our community,” Kimmel said.