True heroes give their lives so that others may live. In Dan Watt’s Everybody Dance, a hero is found in a lowly dance studio in a remote city in California. The film is the story of Bonnie Schlachte, the director of Ballet for All Kids. It’s literally a ballet studio for ALL kids, but particularly for kids with all kinds of developmental problems. The documentary spotlights six of Schlachte’s students with autism, Down Syndrome, and various neuromuscular disorders.
The bones of Everybody Dance are about Schlachte preparing her students for the upcoming dance recital, which is themed “Shine.” She has a small amount of time to choreograph, teach, and rehearse the number in time for the big performance. Using the recital as a backdrop, we see how Schlachte works with her students to accomplish amazing things.
The curriculum she dubbed, The Schlachte Method, was developed “to accommodate all abilities, body types, and learning styles.” Many of us see the disabled as persons with such-and-such problems. Instead, Schlachte sees the individual and finds where their access point is to ballet. We all have our own learning styles. Some students are visual learners, while others are auditory. The overriding belief is that once a student finds that access point, learning will blossom from there, producing massive yields in the end.
“…a ballet studio for ALL kids, but particularly for kids with all kinds of developmental problems.”
Schlachte’s concepts seem so simple, and they come from a belief that art is an amazing equalizer. Art is the ultimate form of expression. No matter what disability or disadvantage someone might have, everyone can shine through the expression of art. Personal growth is the reward as it’s “all in the effort,” Through their child’s efforts, parents see tremendous strides in the growth and development they couldn’t imagine.
You don’t have to be a ballet fan to see that Everybody Dance just oozes inspiration. It’s hard not to see Bonnie Schlachte as a hero to so many parents and their children. She found a way to make connections across the broad spectrum of disabilities and, like magic, touch them in a way that will change their lives for the better.
Anyone who needs a bit of inspiration and hope in life must see Everybody Dance. You don’t need to be a fan of ballet (which I’m not). What you will become a fan of is this idea that people are still out there who sees that there is a world worth saving and tries to save it.
For more information about Everybody Dance, visit the Kandoo Films website.