May 13, 2014

DanceAbilities 2 logoTess Walters, Gastonia, North Carolina – is Executive Director of DanceAbilites Academy, a non-profit special needs dance studio that makes all types of dance available to all individuals with special needs, this is regardless of age and is FREE to all. The DanceAbilities Mission Statement is as follows:

‘All people need and deserve to dance, especially the ones who rarely get to. DanceAbilities is out to change that With our unique program in Gaston & surrounding counties, special needs individuals young and old will have the opportunity to dance at no cost…-‘

We contacted Tess to learn more about her dance company. We firstly asked Tess why she decided to set up DanceAbilities, she told us:

“I set DanceAbilities up because first and foremost I am a mom of four children; two of them are on the autism spectrum. My daughter Mia is on the high functioning/Aspergers side of it and my son Sam is low functioning, nonverbal with a slew of other medical problems.”

Tess is also a ballet dancer and teacher and has trained with companies in Massachusetts and North Carolina. Tess has been dancing for over 20 years and has taught dance in NC for about 5 years.

“This past year I have been volunteering my time twice a week teaching movement and motion classes at our local special needs (kindergarten through 12th grade) school here. I also have taught special needs dance classes and camps at my home base studio Dance Productions.”

Tess Walters, Executive DirectorWe asked Tess how the classes were run and if there were any special requirements made for the children to help them feel at ease in the class. Tess told us:

“In order to keep the classes productive we will have a 2 to 1 ratio. For each two students we have there will be 1 volunteer in addition to me. We will use music and movement to engage the body, mind and heart. Music has the ability to wake up parts of your brain and body that you didn’t know were even asleep.”

Tess made it very clear that the classes at her dance studio are free to all, she said:

“Classes at our studio will be FREE to anyone, at any age, with a current IEP or documentation of disability. From the young children born with disabilities (we will offer a mommy and me type class) all the way to adults”

DanceAbilites accepts all diagnosis’s, including but not limited to cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Angelman syndrome, Down’s syndrome, developmental delay and all individuals on the autism spectrum.

DanceAbilities is run entirely on 100% donations provided by the community’s generous and compassionate nature. If anyone is able to donate you can do so by clicking on this link

Part 2 of this story continues here.

DanceAbilities are currently accepting donations of new and gently used dance shoes so that the students don’t have the extra cost of buying dance shoes. They can be shipped to the studio at the following address.

1385 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC 28052

More information about DanceAbilities can be found on their website

You can also follow on Facebook
And on twitter
You can also email DanceAbilities AT


About the author 

Jo Worgan

Jo Worgan is a published author, writer and blogger. She has a degree in English Literature. She writes about life with her youngest son who is on the autistic spectrum. Jo tweets (@mummyworgan) and is also a freelance columnist for the Lancaster Guardian. ‘My Life with Tom, Living With Autism‘ is her second book and a culmination of her blog posts, and available on Kindle now, along with her first book, Life on the Spectrum. The Preschool years.

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