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‘These kids bring us joy’: Littleton dance team gives kids of all abilities the chance to shine on stage

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Posted at 5:44 PM, Dec 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-23 19:44:05-05

LITTLETON, Colo. — At December dance practice for a Littleton team of K-8th graders, all the focus is on the upcoming Christmas recital. Hours and hours of practice have been poured into choreography, where usually, it’s practice makes perfect. But for this team, perfection isn’t the goal — inclusion is.

“The majority of our dancers do have special needs,” said Abby Heasley, founder of the Harmony Dance Team. “It doesn’t matter what special needs they have, what disability they have. We welcome them.”

The team is made up of 17 young dancers, some in wheelchairs, others with volunteer dancer assistants, and others with no disability at all. They all learn the steps and moves from Heasley, front and center as a guide at practice.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in a wheelchair and not able to walk or you’re bouncing off the walls,” she said. “We have kids truly of all abilities and we're able to adapt to each individual and just make it special for them.”

Heasley founded the Harmony team after her first daughter, Hattie, was born with a rare chromosomal disorder.

“And the thought of Hattie not being able to dance just because of her disability just crushed me,” she said.

Now Hattie and kids like her have a place to dance and much more. Harmony has teams in Littleton, Houston, and East Texas.

“These kids have fun and they’re learning more than just dance. They’re learning confidence, performance skills, how to be a part of a team,” Heasley said.

One of the team members is 6-year-old Izzy. She has Down syndrome and is brand new to the Harmony team.

“When you see her with that big smile, she is on top of the world and it’s so wonderful to experience,” her mom Cassie said.

But what good is all that practice, if you can’t show it all off? On a Wednesday in late December, family and friends filled a small auditorium in Littleton to watch Harmony’s Christmas show.

“I get all kinds of reactions when we perform but all-around is joy. These kids bring us joy,” Heasley said.

The whole Harmony team processed in, dancing along to "Little Drummer Boy" in each member’s unique way.

“The beauty of it is it’s not always perfect and that’s OK,” she said “We’re not prima ballerinas.”

But that didn’t matter to parents like Izzy’s, who couldn’t help but cry as the team finished their show.

“It’s just amazing. Just to see how far she’s come,” Cassie said.

“You can’t help but smile or cry happy tears when you watch them dance because they’re proving everyone wrong. They’re showing people they can do things,” Heasley said.

‘These kids bring us joy’: Littleton dance team gives kids of all abilities the chance to shine on stage

To watch the Harmony performance, click on the video window above. To learn more about the team, including how to join, head to