This Is Carolina: Instructor creates inclusive dance class for kids

“Everybody can relate to dance. Everybody can relate to movement.”
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:35 PM EDT
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SOCASTEE, S.C. (WMBF) - A new program at Palmetto Dance Starz is giving children the chance to dance to their own beat.

“It’s just a wonderful program,” said dance instructor Jennifer Rezeli. “My class, you’re going to see a variety of children. You may see your typical child, you may see a child that is having a hard time getting on task or maybe they look a little different.”

And that’s exactly who Jennifer Rezeli wants in her Together We Dance program, a class that focuses on confidence and creative movement. Rezeli had a similar program in North Carolina before moving to the Grand Strand.

“I was actually training to be a professional ballerina, but I got injured so I decided to just turn it into something positive. I’ve always loved working with the special needs population and have a passion for dance. So I thought, let’s put the two together,” she said.

Rezeli wasted no time teaming up with Palmetto Dance Starz, to help kick-start the program and provide the dancing space. Four through 12-year-olds, learn all styles of dancing including ballet and tap. But they get really excited over the freeze dance where they bop to their favorite song underneath the colored spotlights.

“When the music freezes, I typically say, okay, get in arabesque or show me a big pose or show me a soft pose or a silly pose. Whatever it is we’re working on that week because every week I have a different goal that we’re working on,” said Rezeli.

Rezeli doesn’t teach alone. She has a hand-selected group of volunteers who work with the tiny dancers one on one, like Brenda Purvis.

“This is a great opportunity for kids that are disabled and who are not,” said Purvis.

You may remember Purvis from another This Is Carolina story.

She’s a Zumba dance instructor who does live workouts on the Horry County Special Olympics Facebook Page. Brenda said she loves taking the time to give back to the next generation of performers.

“It gives them a chance to be included. A gift for them to do something that they want to learn,” she said.

Hannah Oleszkowicz and her sister Kaitlyn recently joined Together We Dance, and both share a passion for music and dancing.

They have really creative routines and the music matches every move,” said Kaitlyn.

Their mother, Leslie Oleszkowicz said the class is a welcoming environment and a perfect fit for them, especially for Hannah.

“There’s some limited communication issues so sometimes if she’s not paying attention to the whole dance class, you’re not really sure how much she’s getting out of it. But, when you see it at home and she is picking up all the dance moves and she is learning,” said Oleszkowicz. “Here we feel like we’re not disrupting anybody.”

A feeling that Rezeli wants everyone to experience.

“Everybody can relate to dance. Everybody can relate to movement. And that’s what’s so magical and wonderful when we come in this space. It doesn’t matter what your limitation is. We’re all going to move. We’re all going to dance. We’re all going to have a good time,” said Rezeli.

Rezeli said her class will perform in the Palmetto Dance Starz dance recital at the end of May. If you’re interested in learning more about her program, click here. She said they are still accepting dancers and volunteers.

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