Riley Weinstein—a choreographer, actress, ambassador for the Miss Amazing Organization and an alumni of the Yes I Can Program—personally understands the value and benefit of dance.
At age 2, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that took 16 surgeries over an 18-month period to remove. The procedures left her paralyzed and Weinstein relearned how to use her limbs, walk, talk, eat and speak using various therapies.
Through these therapies she discovered her love of dance and her desire to help other students with special needs.
“As a young girl growing up with a disability myself it was very hard to get into dance classes,” Weinstein said. “I decided at the age of 14 that I wanted to help others who are differently abled (special needs) to dance.”
Through inspiration and help from her horseback riding trainer Becky Graham and director Denise Tomey at Carousel Ranch, Weinstein created her first teaching volunteer job at Vibe Performing Arts.
After three years at Vibe, Weinstein continued teaching at the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts for 6 years.
Today, at 25 years old, Weinstein continues to teach dance to students with special needs at New World Dance in Canyon Country where she rents out space.
“I myself am differently abled. Dance has helped me through so much overcoming my challenges that I believe that it is the best therapy physically, mentally and emotionally,” she said. “I have had students literally walk out of my class when they couldn’t even walk by themselves and when they can’t talk say just simply ‘Dance.'”
Weinstein’s newest class will be based in “jazz movement dance” where students will work on jazz technique, basic movements, stretches, across-the-floor dances and combinations focused on rhythm and listening skills. Oftentimes, Weinstein will create a basic combination to her students’ favorite song.
“At the end we’d do a cool down stretch then after every class we’ll all sit in a circle and I’d have everyone go around telling me what they liked about the day,” she said. “Parents, guardians or caretakers can help their children in the class as well.”
Her hope and goal is to have at least six students, of all ages and abilities, in her class.
“I learn every time I work with them I love what I do and it’s because of them why I love teaching people who are differently abled,” Weinstein said. “They teach me so much about who I am as a teacher.”
Those interested in the dance class can call Weinstein at 661-313-3440 or email her at [email protected] with their name and their child’s name, age and any information regarding his or her abilities.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_