VISTA — On the second Saturday of every month, teens and adults with developmental disabilities find a haven at the Gloria McClellan Adult Activity & Resource Center in Vista. Music fills the main room and everyone has the freedom of self-expression through the love of dance.
The nonprofit organization InnerDancer Performing Arts champions this event. Its founder, Caroline Bossmeyer, is a former professional dancer with the Royal Academy of Dance. She earned her dance certification from the Royal Academy of London in 1991. After years of formally teaching her students ballet, Bossmeyer desired change.
It was time to give back.
In 2009, InnerDancer Performing Arts was born. The nonprofit guides those with special needs an adaptive way to dance.
“Dance is nonverbal, so I teach people to hear the song in the music,” she said. “That is huge because then anyone can move to music. It is inherent in us — we have our heartbeat, which is like a drumbeat.”
At these monthly dances, and even through her instruction at InnerDancer and dance productions, Bossmeyer teaches that dancing does not have to be considered the art of perfection. Instead, dancing comes from the inside.
Challenges are embraced. There is also a sense of inclusion — if one dancer is in a wheelchair, another dancer will push and guide them on the stage or dance floor.
“I consider all the people I teach as angels,” she said.
Bossmeyer’s husband, Tom, is known as the director of fun. He’s also their trusty disc jockey.
According to Tom, the monthly dances gives those with special needs and their caregivers something to look forward to on the calendar. It’s a time to socialize, meet new friends and create memories.
It also promotes physical movement and exercise.
Those who attend the dance range from 17 to 80 years of age, he said. What the husband and wife team admire most is the camaraderie ranging from high-fives and hugs to laughs. Without these dances, people would be sitting at home.
Donna Meester, the program manager at The Gloria McClellan Adult Activity & Resource Center, said these monthly dances are a perfect fit.
“The dance is special because there are limited recreational opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities,” Meester said. “It provides a safe, comfortable place to not only practice your dance moves but also social skills for group settings.”
Meester went on to say the monthly Vista dance is very affordable at $12 and provides two hours of fun, physical movement, socialization and snacks.
To learn more about InnerDancer Performing Arts or the monthly dances in Vista, visit www.innerdancers.org or call Caroline Bossmeyer at (602) 502-2743.