Today we share an interview with Colby Nielson, a dance teacher in Palmer, Alaska. His family has started a wonderful project using dance as a means to touch the hearts of people with special needs.
Q. How did the Super Stars Begin?
A. The Super Stars came from an idea when my mom, Michelle Deemer, and my sister, Shanelle Gangstad, went down to speak at a national special needs convention. While there they saw a singing group that was made up of people with special needs. They liked the idea so much that when they returned home they wanted to start a dance team with special needs, dance being big in our background. They rented a small 12×12 space and Shanelle began teaching a few of her friends from the special needs program at the high school, which she was heavily involved in. From those original 5 we have grown to 25.
Q. Other than building and space limitations, what are some other
challenges you have faced?
A. Some other challenges include not being able to increase price above $5
a class due to low budgets of our students, not being able to change the
time/day of the class due to our special needs students being very
strict on their schedules and not doing well with change. We have to
deal with providers being the ones who take them to class so getting to
talk to their gardians or parents is almost always through third party.
Trying to schedule performances is tough because they often have special
olympics activities on the weekends and again with the having to stick
to a same schedule all the time.
Q. What is your favorite memory or experience with the Super Stars?
A. My favorite memory was at a dance and cheer competition when we were asked
to do an exhibition. My dancers got on the mat and as soon as the music
came on every single person in the gym started clapping for them. To say
their faces lit up was an understatement. To see the support in the room
for my group was almost overwhelming (but in a good way!)
Q. What is your vision for MVD Dance?
A. To grow to where we can be a day-hab facility for people with special
needs and continue to service individuals with special needs as well as
other children in need. Such as foster children or low income families.
Q. What would you like your students to get out of your studio?
A. For our special needs program, we would like to continue to promote
inclusion & continue to help the special needs people to feel included.
Not only that but to show everyone in our community and anywhere we can
that dance is for everyone. That special needs people are just that,
people like you and me. We also would like the kids to continue to feel
like the are part of something positive. I feel when kids can enjoy
positive activities in a positive social environment it helps them grow
as people and can help keep them on a straighter path to a brighter future.
Q. What is the next step in helping your students succeed in your studio?
A. To service them as we would like, we need to get a larger space that we
can renovate. We currently only have one studio and it is on the smaller
side. The renovation would allow for at least two studios and both would
be larger than the one we currently have. We would also renovate to be
more handicap friendly. Most importantly we need to be on the bottom
floor so those in wheel chairs and with other disabilities that can not
make it due stairs would be able to participate.
Q. What do you need to overcome to take the next step in growth with your
A. In order to continue to service as we would like to we need to raise
enough money to get into a larger space and hopefully our own building
that we can renovate. Our Kickstarter is our aim at bringing in funds to
be able to take that next step that we wouldn’t be able to with out it.
Unfortunately the goal we put on there is the bare minimum in order to
get into the next biggest space. Ideally we need about five times that
to really complete the next step we want to take. We understand that we
would rather reach our goal and take two or three steps towards that
then spend the time and have received nothing out of it.
To take a look at our kickstarter campaign (video, pictures, rewards, and the project in further detail) please go to http://shorten.candesign.us/ibss.