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    The Miracle Dancers is an amazing group of local dancers who have special needs, whether they are physical or mental. The group has all ages and all abilities. They have been dancing together for over 20 years. The Miracle Dancers was formed in 1992 by Diane Chambers, owner of  Diane Moore Dance Academy. Today the group has grown to around 70 dancers, and most of the teaching staff at Diane Moore Dance Academy in Jeffersontown has been involved in the group at some point. Diane Moore continues to oversee the group while several other teachers teach the dance classes. They are also a nonprofit organization in order to help students who are in tight financial situations (scholarships, helping with dance clothes/shoes, transportation, etc.).

    Katherine Davis, currently a dance instructor with the program, began working as a helper in the group when she was sixteen. Davis says she has personally been interested in dance from the time she began walking. She told me "I used to run around yelling "Ballerina!" and holding my leg out behind me in arabesque. My parents took the hint and put me in dance class at age five." She danced with Diane Moore Dance Academy and ultimately became a "helper" for the Miracle Dancers. Helpers in the group are traditional students from Diane Moore Dance Academy who lend a helping hand. Some Miracle Dancers may need a partner for extra help learning a step or getting to their place in a formation. Having a dedicated partner also forms a strong friendship between the kids. She has been a teacher for the group for three years and has been heavily involved with the group for the past 10 years. She works along side other teachers with the group including JoNe Thompson, Jennifer Oberhausen, Jessi Price, Angela Hardy and, of course, Diane Chambers (Moore) of the dance academy.

    The group began when Diane received a phone call from a mother who had a little girl who walked with crutches. Her name was Julie, and she wanted to take dance classes like all her friends. Many studios turned Julie away, but Ms. Diane welcomed Julie into the studio. Soon after, a few more students who had special needs began taking classes. Since Julie was the first student in the group, she got to pick the name- and the Miracle Dancers were born.

    Davis sees The Miracles as an inspiration, "They show that sheer determination and hard work will go a long way. Some of these kids have faced more obstacles in their childhood than most people will ever face in their lifetime... yet they come to class with a smile, ready to work hard to achieve their goals. Seeing them excel brings so much joy to everyone who sees them perform." There are several class options available to the dancers, and so many of them have multiple talents. These include ballet, jazz, musical theater, lyrical, clogging, and vocal classes. One of the main goals for the dancers and those who teach them is to build self-confidence and personal growth through the performing arts.

    Davis also says "I think the Miracle Dancers are inspired to continue dancing for the same reason most dancers are. Dancers continually strive to be the best they can be, reaching for individual goals through dance. Dancers tend to be mesmerized by movement and music, and dance provides an outlet to express that. Some of our Miracle Dancers also love to defy the odds. There are students within the group who are not expected to live past infancy, who are now successful adults and very talented dancers. They truly are living Miracles!"

    "I am inspired to keep teaching these dancers for many reasons. One of the biggest things that comes to mind is the joy that dancing brings them. A lot of these kids don't have other extracurricular activities or groups that they can participate in, and so dance becomes a very big part of their life. For many of our Miracle Dancers, they've met their best friends at the studio. They're meeting their goals and getting to perform and spend time with the people closest to them," said Davis. She went on to say that she is also inspired by translating movement. Translating means to take a traditional dance step and adapt it for a dancer who uses a wheelchair, walker, or crutches. Once a step is translated, a standing dancer and a sitting dancer can do the same step with the same timing to music.

    "I personally just love dance," says Davis. "It has been a huge part of my life since I was a small child, and I love bringing that to everyone I meet, whether it's a traditional student or a student who happens to have special needs. I think anyone who wants to dance can dance! And I love being a part of a group that allows that to happen. My favorite part about working with the Miracle Dancers is getting them on stage for a live televised performance every year at the Crusade for Children. The kids are getting to show off a big routine, and are so excited! They get to be movie stars for a day."

    The Miracle Dancers seems like a remarkable hidden gem of a group in Louisville. Davis named the top five things in her opinion that everyone should know about them:
    1. The group is constantly growing! We love new friends.
    2. The group is all ages. Our youngest dancers are about five years old, and have very dedicated helpers. Our oldest students are mature adults. There are several class options within the group to suit various ages and abilities.
    3. We are a nonprofit group (the Miracle Dancer Scholarship Foundation).
    4. We will be performing at the Kentucky State Fair both Saturday mornings (August 22 and 29) in the South Wing Lobby at 10am.
    5. This group truly includes some of the most extraordinary people in Kentuckiana. The impact this group has made on the dancers lives is huge, myself included. All Miracle Dancers and teachers are blessed to be a part of the group.

    You can see their performances throughout the year, namely as they perform on the WHAS Crusade for Children telethon (their biggest annual performance), in Diane Moore Dance Academy's annual recital and Christmas shows and at local events.

    Photos courtesy of Katherine Davis

    Erin Nevitt's picture

    About Erin Nevitt

    Longtime Louisvillian, I am a children's librarian at heart and have a passion for children's lit. I am most recently a stay-at-home mom who is always on the move, searching for family fun in Louisville. If it's free, it's preferable!

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