Meet NDWF Ambassador – Ceci Broussard

Over the years NDWF has had so many wonderful dedicated and hard working Representatives now called Ambassadors.  We are starting a new series and every month it will be my pleasure to will introduce you to them because without them NDWF would not be the success it is today.  First we will begin with Ceci Broussard from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Ceci has dedicated many years to being an Ambassador – helping many to get involved and learn about National Dance Week.  Here is her story:

I came from a show business family and my parents thought I should also be in the business so at age 3 I was in one of my Moms opera shows as a village child. I don’t remember much about it except that I did not follow directions and began dancing wildly around the stage and I stole the show from the singers!
That was almost my first and last time on the stage, but the director gave me another chance and the rest is history.
Around the age of four I became very ill and was not growing well so the doctors thought ballet classes would help make me strong. The problem was that classes were very expensive and I had a special needs sister that needed a lot of care. My parents scraped just enough money for me to start ballet lessons and I was never to miss even one class -EVER!
I became very strong and still to this day am singing and dancing! I still do some dancing on pointe (type In Ceci Broussard on you tube with 4 videos) and have no intention of stopping.Cecilia Broussard
I supported myself for a time being in musical theatre and at my first real professional audition I was not only picked to be in the singing and dancing chorus but landed the role of Dream Laurie in the musical OKLAHOMA! Other professional shows followed, but OKLAHOMA will always be my favorite!
I have taught dance for a very long time(this year will mark my 44th year) and hope to continue for a long time.
I still perform and incorporate this in my memory care work and enjoy it very much! I especially enjoy doing character parts  and the audiences really enjoy me being a comical singing and dancing witch plus other zany roles.

Cecilia Broussard - 2


New Changes and New Date for National Dance Week

Change is good – change is exciting – change is change.  For years National Dance Week has been celebrated at the end of  April thru the beginning of May in honor of Jean-George Noverre who was known as “The Shakespeare of the Ballet.   This has been an honor but we have heard from so many in the dance community that this is an extremely busy time of year.

The new date will be February 24 – March 5 2017.  (it will always start the last Friday of February)

Also the other change is to Celebrate Dance All Year Long – with our new Calendar of Dance

NDW is now an award ceremony of all the wonderful dance events that have taken place during the year.  Different awards and honors will be given each day – they will correspond with the Calendar of Dance.

A Chance to Dance logo NDW_KFK_transparent no NDWF

The Calendar of Dance is a way to incorporate a new dance activity each month.  Join in and get involved with our initiatives – A Chance to Dance and Kick for Kindness – have fun with the Dance Mob –  have your students express themselves with NDWF’s  Essay and Poster Contest. NDWF ESSAY DANCE MOB Transparent

Plus in January our New Beginnings will get your pre-schoolers dancing with Princess Plie and friends or December with our Silver Slippers – active seniors and dance.

NDWF AmbassadorTake the lead in your community and become an Ambassador.  Join this encouraging and inspiring group who are making a difference in their communities.  Their activities have help to set their studio or organization apart from the crowd – teaching their participants how dance can also be a force for positive change.

NDWF is excited about all the changes but we need you to help make it happen.  Get involved – make a difference – share your experiences.  If we all work together thru dance we can make a difference.

Thank you and if you have any questions – thoughts or ideas I would love to hear from your.

Cathy Graziano

Executive Director


Why I support “A Chance to Dance” by Amy Metrena, MSPT Physical Therapist

Imagine you are 19. Unable to move on your own.  Unable to sit without holding on.  Having the chance to dance.  Showcase your strengths. Have fun.  Connect with your peers. Imagine the possibilities.

As a pediatric school based physical therapist, when I first heard about National Dance Week “A Chance to Dance” and the launch of Wingman for Dance, my heart soared.  Over the years, I have had many of my clients tell me they wished to take a dance class like their siblings and friends, but “couldn’t” for one reason or another: lack of appropriate classes, lack of understanding of their abilities from their parents, lack of financial resources, and many other reasons.   I am not a dancer, my girls are.  When I told them about the opportunity to participate in the Newtown Dance Mob to celebrate National Dance Week and the launch of Wingman for Dance, they eagerly jumped at the chance to participate with their studio.  As we listened to the inspirational speakers at the start of the event, excitement could be felt in the stadium.  I watched as not only my girls, but all of the dancers, heard the message that everyone wants to be included, no matter their ability.  The dancers took this message, and filled with energy and excitement, danced their hearts out.  My family left the stadium emotional, open to possibilities, and changed for the better.

With a heart filled with hope, I returned to work the Monday following this inspiring event, sharing with my students about my experience over the weekend.  One of my students is a 19 year old young lady with Spina Bifida.  She has significant scoliosis and no ability to move her legs.  While she is able to sit if she uses her hands for support, a power wheelchair is her only means of mobility.  Socially, she has told me she feels isolated from her peers.  She spent most of her life in another country, and did not attend school until she moved to the United States 3 years ago.  Physically she feels different from her peers, and in addition, English is not her first language. She is very shy, and typically social interactions with her peers are facilitated by adults.

As I showed her pictures from the Newtown Dance Mob, her face lit up.  I asked if she wanted to dance to the same music hundreds of other dancers were dancing to that same week..  “But I can’t dance.”  I assured her that yes, she indeed could.  Together, we sat on the mat with the music on repeat.  I helped with her balance as she moved her arms to adapted choreography to the best of her ability.  Over and over, she danced, her face filled with joy.  At the end of our session she said in broken English “Something is wrong with me!  My face, it is very hot!”.  For the first time in her life, she was able to move enough on her own to break a sweat and exert herself.  Despite years of therapy, she had never reached this milestone. She returned to class, initiating conversation with her classmates to tell them excitedly that she had been dancing!  Not only did she experience benefits physically, but socially and emotionally as well.  

After hearing her excitedly talk about dancing during PT,  my next group of students asked as we left the room , “Can we dance too?” Why yes, yes you can

Amy Metrena, MSPT
Physical Therapist Amy - Wingman
Guest, NDW

Why I think dance for special needs students is so beneficial – by Skyler Cordrey

How I started volunteering – I started volunteering with my Mother though the National Charity League.   Once I found out that “Free 2 Be Me” needed volunteers to help out in their special needs dance class I knew I had to be a part of this wonderful program. I got really excited because it was a way to incorporate my passion for dance to help others.

Why I started – I started volunteering because I enjoy sharing the love I have for dance with others.  It takes a while for the students to warm up to new people but when they do you feel so much of the love and kindness that they have to offer.  So many Smiles, Hugs & High 5’s it is great!

Why I continue – I continue to volunteer because I love any form of dance.  While helping out I feel I am making a difference and I have become attached to all our students. I know each of their personalities and proud to call them my friends. You also don’t see very many dance classes for special need students. All the ballet and dance schools/programs that I have attended in the last 8 years did not offer these types of classes.   When I go off to college in a couple of years I would like to start a special needs dance class at whatever school I end up at.

Why I think dance for special needs students is so beneficial- Dance for Special need students is very beneficial because I have noticed that kids of special needs have difficulty expressing what they are feeling and I think dance gives them an opportunity to do so creatively. It is a way to learn their different personalities and connect with them.  If it were up to me every dance program would have a class for special needs students.   But, the bottom line is it makes them happy! It makes me happy to always see their smiling faces and positive outlook.  Each new class brings in the opportunity of meeting new friends.  It is a joy to watch everyone dance and express themselves.  During their “free dance time” (which is their favorite part of the class), they each express themselves with different movements.  Dance is also good for their self-confidence, coordination and body awareness.

Guest, NDW

My – “A Chance to Dance” by Claudine Ranieri – NDWF Ambassador

Well I just completed my Chance To Dance- Paramus events. It was an incredible event in my school district. As a proud ambassador I was able to service all the Special Education students in my district. I taught to two master classes at Ridge Ranch Elementary School and West Brook Middle School. As well one of the other Parkway Elementary hosted their own Dance A Thon… giving everyone a Chance To Dance.

The culminating evening event on April 27th “ Chance To Dance” was an enormous success with over 100 guests including faculty, friends and family supporting our Special Education and LEAP students at the high school. Students performed Latin ballroom dance the ‘Merengue” and group dance to “ Better When I’m Dancin’” by Megan Trainor. Here is a direct quote from one of our LEAP students which sums up the event-

“ Dance is a happy moment when I can touch the music.”- Scott Campbell LEAP Student Paramus High School

Here is what I wrote to thank my staff… Chance To Dance- Thank YOU !

“Just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for making “Chance To Dance” a true success here in Paramus at the High School, Ridge Ranch Elementary and West Brook Middle Schools, especially Mrs. Margaret Damiano and Mrs. Karen Peterson both who have supported this initiative from the beginning. This event couldn’t have happened without all your amazing support and giving dance a chance. The presence of so many faculty, friends and family last night was overwhelming. The joy, happiness and energy of all the students and guests dancing were palpable. As I stated last night , I am in awe the amazing team work here at Paramus , especially in the Special Education department and the sense of community and family you have with one another as well as how welcomed you make me feel . It is a privilege to work with each of you and especially all of the amazing teachers, aides and specialists who constantly nurture and care for each student as well as assist and join me on the dance floor. It couldn’t be possible without you.


Here is quote from one of our LEAP students that truly captured this event.

 “Dance is a happy moment when I can touch the music.”- Scott Campbell – LEAP- (Ms. Marlaina Postolakis Class)

 I look forward to continuing my mission of giving everyone a chance to dance so we may all touch the music. “

-Claudine Ranieri Dance Educator & Ambassador NDW

Everyone said they definitely want to do this again!!


Claudine Ranieri

Dance Educator

Paramus High School

Early Childhood & LEAP Dance Programs

Artistic Director of The Spartanettes


A Special Story about A Chance to Dance

Amaya’s love for dance began when a caregiver showed her some ballet dance positions:  pirouette, plie and arabesque.  She learned them (in her own style) and was excited to show anyone who asked for a demonstration.  At that time, I asked around about a dance class for children with special needs but no one was aware of any.  A couple years later I saw a reference to a dance recital on Gigi’s Playhouse website calendar.  I immediately called Miss Jen at Celebrations Dance Center and she welcomed Amaya to the class.

There are not many opportunities for physical activity for special needs children.  In Amaya’s case, she does not fit in well in classes or sports for typical children; it is too distressing for her.  The dance class at Celebrations is a nice opportunity for Amaya to get some exercise and have fun as well.  She enjoys meeting with her peers outside of school and has made friends in the class.

She feels like a beautiful ballerina when she puts on a dance costume and goes on stage in front of an audience and I am a proud parent when I watch her dance on stage.   We are so very thankful to Miss Jen and the dance buddies who volunteer their time to make this possible for us!

Kim Sgroi


Guest, Uncategorized

My Story Celebrating Children and the Art of Dance by Jennifer Gentile

I wanted to let you look in the windows of our studio at the beautiful dance family I come home to each night. Some have autism, one has Marfans, one has a disorder where her bones break easily, one has social anxiety disorder, one has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and this is my award winning competition team.Jennifer

Dance is their medicine. It brings us together. It gives us goals to reach and another place to feel safe and loved. It is a place where parents bring their children to build their self-esteem and to be accepted and to grow and learn. It is home💕

We had an amazing time  at the World Down Syndrome Day at Destiny USA. This event is held on 3:21 appropriately so reflecting that this is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21.Dancers supporting dancers

We have been “Celebrating” our dance relationship with GiGi Playhouse, a nationally recognized Down syndrome achievement center, for the past 5 years.

At Celebrations Dance Center we offer FREE dance classes to children with special needs. We have both integrated classes and a Dance Buddy class where we pair up our competition students with a child who benefits from 1:1 in a group environment.

We have performed at competition together and our annual holiday show and years end recital.
At World Down syndrome day we were invited to hold class in the Canyon at our local shopping mall, Destiny USA. At the end of our class I was able to teach the flash mob dance that we will be performing during National Dance Week.Jennifer Gentile and Gigi playhous

I choreographed my own version of the dance based on my experience in working this population. It was an amazing hit, upbeat, simple and really made you feel positive and accomplished. The two young women in the video I included that are upfront dancing with me both have Down syndrome as do many, many more in the crowd that joined us.
We have painted the letter G on our studio wall with a heart around it representing that we

Jennifer Gentile with G

Jennifer Gentile with G

are part of Generation G. We believe in each other, we have each other’s backs and we encourage forward growth for the special needs community.
Our dance shirts reflect our mission that Celebrations Dance Center is raising the “barre” for acceptance of special needs students in the dance community.
Celebrating Children and the Art of Dance,
Jenny Gentile /Owner/Dance Educator/Generation G


Dancing is something that anyone can do, so why not make it available to everyone?! – Special Stars story by Samantha Kuczun

Special Stars is a performing arts program, through Kathy’s Tumbleweed School of Dance, for individuals with special needs. We opened our doors in 2014 to ALL individuals with developmental and/or physical disabilities. We offer classes for children through adults. We want our students to explore new ways of expression, learn cooperation through group activities, and gain confidence while learning new skills. Our classes provide opportunities to spark creativity, gain an appreciation for the arts, and discover personal strengths, talents, and potentials. We also offer personal and individual attention to meet each person’s specific needs.

Special Stars Photo Collage

Special Stars Photo Collage

Special Stars Program was created to offer performing arts classes to ALL who wish to attend. It is not fair for individuals with special needs to be excluded from opportunities and we wanted to create a program that welcomed everyone. We are so excited to see National Dance Week taking an interest in this! Dancing is a wonderful way to express yourself and is great for exercise and physical fitness. Through dancing, we have seen so many individuals light up and gain confidence while improving their stability and everyday life. Dancing is something that anyone can do, so why not make it available to everyone?!


Countdown to National Dance Week

The sun is shining the days are getting warmer and flowers are blooming.  It can only mean one thing – National Dance Week is coming soon.  The year NDW will be April 22-May 1st with our new “A Chance to Dance” initiative.  Dance is such a wonderful outlet for Chance 3 - editso many with all its physical and emotional benefits that we really wanted to help create opportunities for everyone.  Many times children with special needs and learning differences not given the chance to join in and take a dance class.  The reasons are many – but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

“A Chance to Dance” is our way to help make that change. We have has teamed up with Rhythm Works Integrative Dance and the Wingman Program offering scholarship opportunities to teachers/instructors.  This will give them the tools and confidence to not only create classes but to integrate special needs students into their existing dance classes.

The funding for the scholarships is thru the NDW t shirt sales. A portion of the purchase price will go towards providing these educational scholarships for dance teachers to become certified Rhythm Works Integrative Dance Instructors and the Wingman Program.

Help NDWF and Show your support! The goal is to get as many as possible to organize a “wear the NDW t-shirt to class” day/week.  Reminding everyone that the funds raised by the purchase of the NDW t-shirt will go to a great cause to promote dance for all across the nation!

Get on board today – get your shirt and send us your pictures and videos helping us to create awareness and give everyone “A Chance To Dance”!

Dance Week on Shirt (1)

For more information or to order shirts –


Less Than 9 Weeks until National Dance Week!

Help us make it the best ever!

With less than 9 weeks until the start of National Dance Week, there’s still plenty of time to get involved in the many events and activities our Foundation has for 2016.  This year, we are excited to announce our “A Chance to Dance” campaign which was created to give an opportunity to children with special needs and learning differences to dance and to help raise money for educational scholarships for dance teachers and instructors.

Everyone in the dance community understands firsthand the many benefits of dance such as artistic expression, learning discipline and even physical conditioning.  It is our goal to help people of all ages despite any challenges to experience these same benefits. By purchasing a Dance Mob t-shirt for example, you are helping to create awareness and support this important initiative.

We have many ways for you to “celebrate dance and promote fun fitness” during NDW while promoting your school or group in your community.  Let us know your plans and we will add it to our Events calendar –

But for those of you who want to engage in this year’s NDW events, you have many choices:

  • Purchase the National Dance Week (NDW) event t-shirt.A portion of the purchase price will go towards providing the educational scholarships
  • Organize and participate in a Dance Mob
  • Write an essay for our Essay Contest
  • Design a poster for our Poster Contest
  • Pre-school Reading Program
  • Produce a dance performance of any kind
  • Present a lecture demonstration at a local school

These are all fun activities and include all ages.  The new Dance Mob choreography and to see the essay and poster topics and rules please visit:

Thank you advance for your support and we can’t wait to see all the great pictures and videos of your National Dance Week celebrations as we get ever year!  It’s up to you to help us get your students, friends, family and community involved so they don’t “Miss A Chance to Dance!”