Dancing with Joy: An interview with Katie, our Dance program lead

Katie our Dance program lead shows the participants the Tik Tok dance they are about to learn.
Katie Showing the Dance Class a Tik Tok
Dance before they learn it

Why did you decide to volunteer at GiGi’s Playhouse?

I was part of the Scout Buddies program and integrated wellness at Lake Forest High school and absolutely loved it. I knew a few people who volunteered at GiGi’s and only had good things to say about the program so I decided to volunteer as well! I teach dance at the Lake Bluff Park District and I love working with kids. Shannon expressed that they wanted to bring the GiGi’s dance program back so it was the perfect opportunity for me to get involved and share my love for dance with the kids! Best decision ever. 

What is your favorite part of being our Dance program lead?

I’m not sure I can pick just one thing that is my favorite part because the entire experience is so rewarding! I love seeing the smiles on the kids faces every week and knowing that I’m having a positive impact on their lives. I also love seeing how excited they get when they learn a new dance move or accomplish a new skill they didn’t think they would be able to, helping the see their full potential is incredible. They also make me laugh so hard and never fail to put a smile on my face, seriously these kids are hilarious and amazing to be around. 

Katie a volunteer and Hannah a participant with Down syndrome rest after practicing back bends at dance class
Katie and Hannah resting after a difficult move

Describe a #bestofall moment (or two) that’s happened in your class. 

One of our favorite activities at dance class is a TikTok dance to a song called “Green Green Grass.” This is a very high energy dance and the kids absolutely love it. Each week the kids get better and better at this routine and start adding their own style and flare to it which makes it even better! Another #bestofall moment is seeing the kids open up and become more comfortable with not only myself but also the other members of our dance class. Pau, now one of our most enthusiastic members, was very shy on her first day and I could tell she was nervous to participate as much as she wanted to. We always sit in a circle before we start dancing and share any good news or fun stories with the group. We only got a few words out of her the first day and now she always wants to share. This past week she came running in and said “I’m backkkk!” With a huge smile on her face, sat down at the circle and immediately started sharing with the group. I’ve loved getting to see her personality come out more and more each week whether it be her funny stories or her awesome dance moves. This has been the case with most of our dance class friends! Each week they get more comfortable and are able to express themselves freely and just have a good time while staying active and learning funky fresh dance moves! 

Love GiGi’s so much!! 

~ Katie, DANCE Program Lead

Volunteers run dance therapy program with participants with Down syndrome
Group picture of some of our Dance participants and volunteers!

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