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Meet Bonnie Schlachte of Ballet For All Kids in Agoura Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bonnie Schlachte.

Bonnie, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I began Ballet For All Kids out of the belief that all children regardless of abilities should be able to reap the benefits of a classical ballet education. One day when I was rocking my typical two year old daughter to sleep, I thought, “what if my daughter had Autism or CP or some other disability, where would I put her in ballet?” I realized that there were no classes that fully included and integrated typical kids in with children with special needs so I developed a method that made classical ballet accessible to all children — that’s how Ballet For All Kids got its start.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I believe everything in life has its challenges — it is how we learn and grow. As in learning classical ballet, tenacity is the key. When there are challenges you need to keep at it, try different angles, take an alternative approach until you succeed. With Ballet for All Kids, we have challenges that come with every business as well as the added factor of advocating for children. Ballet For All Kids believes that all children can achieve success if they feel supported, are expected to meet high expectations, and are given the right atmosphere to thrive.

Ballet For All Kids is truly for all kids — those with disabilities and those without. Some of the challenges come from changing global expectations for our students — for people to realize that ALL our students, both typical and special needs, try equally as hard, are equally brave, and need to be acknowledged for their accomplishments and art.

Ballet For All Kids – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Ballet For All Kids is the only all-inclusive studio in the world. Our mission is to give the benefits of a classical ballet education to ALL children regardless of their abilities, body type or learning style. Ballet needs to be accessible to all children – not just as an elite art or for those who aspire to become professional dancers. Ballet teaches many lessons that go beyond the studio and right on into life – it teaches focus, the importance of preparation, and that you have to be balanced first at your core before you can do the hard stuff. It also teaches you to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others and that you should start the way you mean to go on. The list goes on and on. All these translate into valuable life skills. Everyone can benefit from these lessons. My belief is that dance should be taught in a compassionate, inclusive way. You can teach good technique and have high expectations without killing someone’s self-esteem.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I credit the amazing teachers in my life — namely Ms. Cook and Ms. Razzetti. Both of them always had high expectations of their students. Both of them found unique ways of teaching — outside of the box type of teaching. I always looked forward to learning from them — their classes were the highlight of my week. I also always wanted to be better and do better for them. They both were demanding teachers with high expectations but at the same time were extremely compassionate.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kwaku Alston, Rick Guidotti

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