Arts Horizons partners with ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School
On the afternoon of Saturday September 7th, Ballet Faculty with Children’s division of The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre held their fall staff meeting. This year a special focus was designated specifically to address special needs of students in the pre-primary program in a workshop with Arts Horizons Director of Special Education and NYC Residencies, Dena Malarek.
The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School Children’s Division is a ballet program for children ages 4-12 that promotes discipline and creativity while encouraging each child to reach their highest potential. Classes focus on building a solid foundation in ballet technique with an emphasis on proper placement and safe progressions of movement while remaining sensitive to the developmental needs of younger dancers. The workshop presented by Ms. Malarek was designed specifically for the organization and explored how they might best address the needs of young dancers with special needs with the context of expectations in the pre-professional training environment. Participants discussed relevant disability characteristics as manifested in the dance studio environment and targeted strategies for studio instruction, behavioral interventions and organizational accommodations.
Taking this step to address special needs of young dancers in the JKO children’s division speaks very loudly to recognize the potential for young dancers who may have special needs to be given an opportunity in the world of pre-professional ballet. “It is essential for the faculty and staff to have access to this type of professional development so that we can be responsive to the needs of the student body,” Melissa Bowman, Assistant Principal of the JKO School.
Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Programs and Special Education, joined Arts Horizons in June 2008. She brings with her over 19 years working in the field of disabilities services. She is certified as a recreation therapist and sits on the steering committee of the NYC Arts and Special Education Consortium. As a recreation therapist, her work and volunteer experiences span diverse disability genres and artistic/athletic/recreational milieus. As a former Director of Day Habilitation for adults with disabilities, she managed educational, recreational and arts programs to facilitate goal development. She further developed skills as a staff trainer in behavioral crisis management. A key focus of her programs was curriculum development for adults with mental retardation and autism transitioning out of the special education school districts. Her current major projects with Arts Horizons including the “Special Education Artist Academy for Arts and Autism” and “Hospital School programs” have been recognized with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Christopher Reeve Foundation, NYSCA, and the DANA foundation. Dena’s skill set as a manager, trainer, recreation therapist, dancer and educator carefully guide teaching artists to effectively collaborate, educate and influence students with disabilities in partnership with school and community special education teams. Dena is also a modern dancer who performs in the New York City Modern dance community and teaches modern dance, jazz, ballet and yoga, to students with, and without, disabilities.
For more information contact Dena Malarek, Director of Special Populations and NYC Residencies. firstname.lastname@example.org