Every little girl’s dream has dreamed of becoming a ballerina one day. But, due to the physical activities involved in this profession, the dream of becoming a real ballerina seems unattainable and unrealistic. Fortunately, a mother has made a difference in that belief in her own beautiful way – Natalia Armoza.
Natalia has a daughter named Pearl, who was born with cerebral palsy. This condition is often caused by a traumatic brain injury before or during birth, which results in impaired muscle coordination. So, people with this condition struggles with balance, posture, and movement, basically, the fundamental requirements of ballet.
In the video below, Natalia shares how she knew about the dance workshops offered by The New York City Ballet for children. Unfortunately, none of these seem to fit for differently-abled kids. Because of that, she thought of opening the doors of Lincoln Center to give children like Pearl, the chance to dance. She said, “There were movement programs for children to dance with dancers from The New York City Ballet, and I really would have loved to have done one of those with Pearl, but I didn’t want her to be the focus of other people’s stares or comments, and I wanted to really protect her from that.”
Natalia then sent an email to the ballet company and shared with them about her daughter. Here is a part of her message:
“It would mean so much to my daughter and children like her to be able to take part in a New York City Ballet workshop and for one day feel like they too could become ballerinas.”
To her surprise, the company responded in a positive way. They immediately went to a cerebral palsy specialist and asked their help in organizing a workshop for four kids with cerebral palsy, including Pearl.
Joseph Jutkowsy, M.D., recalled the moment he got a message from the company. He stated, “Out of the blue one day, I got an email. ‘Would you be willing to come and help us set up some workshops for children with disabilities?’ I remember looking at it and thinking YES!”
Principal dancers of NYC Ballet, Adrian Danchig-Waring and Maria Kowroski, were among those who taught the kids how to dance.
In the video, Maria shared how enthusiastic she was about the project. She said, “I didn’t want to treat them differently from a normal child. I didn’t want to make them feel disabled. I was worried that I was going to get emotional watching them because it’s difficult to see someone struggle.”
During the class, the kids were free to move in any possible way they could.
The classes ended in a final workshop, where the kids wore tutus and superhero capes. It was a touching moment for the parents as they got the chance to sit back and watch their kids acting normal. But, one moment touched Natalia’s heart. She said, “I see parents who are always holding, literally holding, their children up or pulling them out of a wheelchair. And when I can see them sitting and seeing their child be independent, I get emotional.”
However, Natalia isn’t the only one who was very happy at that time. Adrian also said, “It was a really emotional day. Maria and I had not been prepared for how connected we would feel immediately with the group of kids that we had. In fact, we had underprepared for how energetic, enthusiastic, and physically capable these kids turned out to be.”