Darby’s Dancers is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to bringing the joy of the performing arts to as many children and adults with special needs as possible. As a member studio the organization will provide us with the resources and tools necessary to have this amazing program in which we can reach so many people in Duluth and the surrounding area. Activities can be hard to find that adapt to and include everyone and even when they are found, they can be very costly. Families/students who participate as a Darby’s dancer, do so for FREE. What this means is that Madill Performing Arts Center, through our own profits, sponsorships, and fundraisers will be able to offer these dancers the opportunity to participate in dance without financial burden.

If you think you might be interested in sponsoring or partially sponsoring a Darby’s Dancer for the year please reach out to the office at [email protected] to get more information.

In addition, this program will give our older students the opportunity to mentor a Darby’s Dancer as they attend class with their mentee and create a special bond with the dancer they work with. Not only will our students get to share their passion for dance, but they are able to do it and hep in such an amazing way. Click HERE to complete a Mentor Application and HERE for a Mentor Reference Form.

Our Darby’s Dancers will participate in select performances throughout the year and they will be a part of our annual recital as well. These dancers will be a huge part of our studio community!

If you know someone who would be interested in becoming a Darby’s Dancer please have them reach out to the studio by phone or email and access a Darby’s Dancer Application HERE!

What is Darby’s Dancers?
Darby’s Dancers is a dance education program for children with special needs. Classes take place in a local dance studio where each child is accepted into the life of the entire studio. Founded in memory of Darby Emma Jones (1999-2013) of Huntsville, Alabama, Darby’s Dancers was developed to give children with special needs the opportunity to enjoy the performing arts as Darby did in an atmosphere of community and inclusion for all.

How does my child qualify to participate?
Child must have a disability as identified in an IEP or physician diagnosis.

What is the cost?
There is no cost at all to the family of the dancer.

What will my child need?
Dance attire, shoes and recital costumes will be provided as well as other items deemed necessary by the program coordinator.

Will my child have performance opportunities?
Darby’s Dancers participate in the annual dance recital at the minimum. Some studios have other performance opportunities such as winter shows or friendly competitions.

Who will help my child in class?
The class will be led by a professional dance teacher and each child will have a teenage mentor to assist them.

Does my child need previous dance experience?

Is attendance mandatory?
Everyone misses class occasionally due to illness, family trips, etc. but we encourage the child to attend as often as possible. The dance studio is giving up time and space that could be otherwise used for paying customers. Teenagers have scheduled the time with your child and will be there whether your child is there or not. There is usually a waiting list of children waiting to join the program. If attendance is a problem, you will be asked to reconsider your request to participate.

Do you accept children with any disability?
All except extremely medically fragile individuals or those with behavioral issues.

What are the qualifications of the teachers?
Classes are taught by dance professionals who may or may not have specialized training in special education. Volunteers working with the program most likely do not have specialized training. The national organization provides annual training to all chapters and there are many opportunities for dance professionals to participate in training. It is not mandatory, however. We provide the best we can with the best of intentions regarding your child with safety our highest priority. Darby’s Dancers is designed to be an engaging physical and social opportunity for our students but is NOT professional therapy.