Making a Difference: Adult adaptive dance program offered for people with Down syndrome

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A new adult adaptive dance program in Madison is encouraging people with Down syndrome to get out their dancing shoes. It's a partnership between GiGi's Playhouse and Magnum Opus Ballet and volunteers said it is the first of it's type class in the area.

"It's so much more than about dance. Yes, dance is this awesome joy and this gift that we have but I think it's more about how do we enhance this people group in their life, as a whole," said Abigail Henninger, founder and artistic director of Magnum Opus. "I think it's been a really great new friendship that has started so it's been a joy to be here."

Judy Heil said it has been fun to watch her son progress throughout the course of the class.

"Matthew is here for dance because he loves to dance every morning and so this is a good way for it to be more formalized so let me say he hid behind the pole the first session. Yes he did. I was amazed he did that because he loves dance but, you know, these dancers are wonderful. They brought him out and he's on the dance floor and volunteering now, so it's been a wonderful experience," said Heil.

Julia Meyers is the site manager at Gigi's Playhouse and said the class has been a great opportunity for participants.

"Abigail and her crew from Magnum Opus are volunteers so they come here and give their knowledge and their talents for our participants absolutely free of charge and this is an amazing opportunity and we're very grateful to have them here, said Meyers. "In the beginning, they didn't quite know what to do and now they just absolutely love to come and they participate and I have seen people participate in dance who usually are shy and don't want to move as much and now they just absolutely love it and that's so wonderful."

Henninger shared what drives her desire to give back to this group.

"The passion that I have for this particular people group really stems from my family. My sister has Down syndrome so you really view life in a different way. I saw her take dance classes as a kid how that really affected her every day life. She just really came to life when she started dancing," said Henninger.

For more information on future class offerings, click here.