Volunteering as a teen dancer was one of the most meaningful experiences I carry with me from my high school years. This organization brings smiles to ALL kids in a true celebration of the power & magic of dance!
Dancing Dreams is honestly the greatest foundation I’ve ever seen. The smiles on the children’s faces are unmatchable. Dancing Dreams not only gives the children a fantastic community and a chance to realize their dreams can come true, but it also is a great eye opener for the teen volunteers
My daughter Suhani loves dancing dreams, she has been going there from 6+ years and she loves it absolutely. Joanne, the staff, helpers, volunteers are wonderful, we love them. Joanne teaches our kids from the heart and shes the best.
Suhani has been going to dancing dreams from almost 5 years, Joanne and all the helpers and volunteers are so wonderful and teach so selflessly it commendable. Thanks for everything you guys do.
When other dance program refused to allow my daughter to participate due to her symptoms Dancing Dreams accepted her and embraced her. They paired her with an assistance to assist her. and she was able to attend her very first Ballet recital. This was a dream come true for me and for her. We feel so blessed and honored to have participated in Dancing Dreams. We were also provided with a full scholarship. I highly recommend this program.
My daughter Moxie joined Dancing Dreams this year and the experience was profound. Joann and her team are simply the best. The love and energy they put into this program can be seen and felt at every class, culminating with the final performance. All you need to see are the dancers smiling faces to understand how much this program means to them. I also need to mention the students who volunteer to help the dancers, these are the teens that will become the leaders of tomorrow. On top of their heavy school workloads they happily show up each week, and not only work hard with the dancers, but more importantly have fun with them. I really can’t speak highly enough of Joann and her whole Dancing Dreams Team, I love them all.
What more can I say about dancing dreams that hasn’t been said already. Everyone is who part of this amazing organization has always and forever go above and beyond to make dance class and the recital a magical time these kids will never forget. Joann and her staff have a heart of gold. We love dancing dreams and all that they stand for!
What can I say that hasn't been said? Joann and her staff have really created an amazing thing in Dancing Dreams.
I can't even express the feeling seeing my daughter onstage in the performance of "City NIghts." She is just 7 and this was her first year participating. Every week she was quite excited to practice for Dancing Dreams!
But I was totally unprepared for what I felt at the performance. I can't get the looks of joy that I saw onstage out of my mind. The dancers were given an opportunity to do something really special through Dancing Dreams. They created wonderful art through their movements. The performance of "City Nights" at York College was painfully beautiful. I can't remember being this proud, not only of my own daughter, but of all the dancers up there. It takes a lot of bravery to perform, not just for people with challenges but for anyone!
The presence and competence of the helpers was an unexpected surprise. I am really impressed that it is still possible to arrange such a selfless group of young people to spend much of their valuable time doing the hard work required in assisting the dancers. When I took my daughter to practice, these student helpers weren't sitting around texting and looking bored. On the contrary, they seemed quite engaged and my daughter formed a friendship with her helper that persisted outside the studio.
And these teens do not even get to enter the limelight, but instead dress in concealing black to better allow the dancers to shine onstage! These high schoolers even arranged a wonderful post-show party that was fun and memorable.
Excellent dance class for children with different abilities!! The teacher and staff help the students achieve their goals.
Dancing Dreams is a very special place for our daughter. It's the one of the few places where she can make friends, move her body with confidence and feel like a star!! Gianni RUNS to class every Monday and looks forward to seeing her 1:1 volunteer, teachers and peers each week. We are grateful to Joann and her amazing team for such a wonderful gift!!
Dancing Dreams has made such an impact on my daughter's life. Besides making friends it has also helped her in her ability to socialize and to express herself through music and dance.
Our daughter entered the Dancing Dreams family and has enhanced her social skills with her peers in addition to improving her motor skills. We are so proud of her and are greatly appreciative of the Dancing Dreams staff, volunteers, and helpers.
Dancing Dreams is an incredible program that gives children and young adults the confidence they need to succeed. Being a high school volunteer taught me so many invaluable lessons that I apply every day. I learned how to have someone depend on you, the importance of patience, kindness and the responsibility that you have to constantly give back. I started with Dancing Dreams in 2007 and still come back to volunteer during the recitals because I see how much heart and soul Joann puts into these productions. The hours of labor and love are just indescribable. Thank you, Joann and Dancing dreams for allowing me to remain connected to my first dancer, Natalie for nearly 10 years! It has been an absolute joy to watch her grow into the beautiful, young, confident lady she is today!
Dancing Dreams is a wonderful organization. The dancers are treated with respect and given the ability to make their dreams come alive. There are so many things that the program teaches both dancers and volunteers. My daughter was a volunteer and I saw such a positive transformation. I endorse Dancing Dreams to anyone who will listen. Joanne and her team work tirelessly to give the Dancers a platform to realize their dreams.
My 9 year old daughter Tianni has been with Dancing Dreams for 5 years. Tianni has low muscle tone which led to her scoliosis due to her being born with Prader Willi Syndrome. Dancing Dreams has provided Tianni the opportunity to dance despite of her physical challenges. Dancing Dreams is a dream come true for our family!
I first read about Dancing Dreams in People magazine several years ago. Over the years, I have watched this program grow from a few dancers and helpers to the program it is today. Joann Ferrara is an amazing woman with boundless energy who pours her heart and soul into Dancing Dreams. I continue to be amazed year after year by the end of year performance and the smiles on the dancers faces, both boys and girls light up my life. There is nothing more beautiful than watching these children perform on stage, and no doubt these performances are special moments in their lives as well as the lives of their families. I have had the privilege of watching several weekday classes and have seen firsthand the progress in the children through dance movements and music. I never leave a class without a smile on my face knowing the impact this program has on the lives of these children. To Joann, the teachers, helpers, volunteers and all those involved with Dancing Dreams, you are all truly my heroes!
Dancing Dreams is a dream comes through for my son Clemente who has been developing physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the last three years as part of this amazing experience. The perfect atmosphere Ms. Joan has created is welcoming, delightful, and fruitful. Every single person in this wonderful team of professionals know my son by name and treat him with the love and respect that can only emanates from pure, genuine hearts. The progress my son has made is priceless, and his confidence has improved greatly since joining the dream.
From the perspective of a loving mother With Wisdom, I can attest that this program is worthy of support, growth, and recognition. Even though the vast majority are girls, my boy has always been treated accordingly which I greatly appreciate. Seeing the smiles, and perceiving the warmth of all of the volunteers while helping our little ones, makes my heart bless them all at the speed of light.
From the perspective of an adult who faced severe physical challenges during my childhood, I perceive the environment of Dancing Dream as “Heaven on earth.” To be more clear or specific, I mean that this is a place of safety, peace, and love. A place where our children can experience the freedom to be, to become, to take ownership of their full potentials under the great guidance and leadership in which they are encouraged in perfect harmony with the heart beats that sound in one accord “You can” “You will.”
Leaders know when people care about something deeply, success follows. I have never met anyone more passionate than Joann Ferrara, a pediatric physical therapist by training who founded Dancing Dreams, a charity that gives children with physical challenges a chance to fulfill their dreams to dance. It is her passion, her dedication, her sleepless nights and her dreams that enable her to turn the impossible dreams of hundreds of boys and girls into reality.
Joann’s passion is matched equally by that of her student ballerinas and teen helpers. As a result, both teacher and students thrive and hundreds of children, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and teens benefit from a dance experience they never thought possible. And dance they do, in a performance “extravaganza” on stage complete with costumes, makeup and glitter-- just like their friends, sisters and mothers have done.
So what if this ballerina is in a wheelchair? So what if she has braces on her legs? Joann and her cohort of teen helpers inspire these boys and girls to realize their full potential.
It’s infectious. It’s inspiring. And, it delivers results that truly make dreams come true.
Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself at www.dancingdreams.org.
I first encountered Dancing Dreams while facilitating tickets for dancers attending a performance by New York City Ballet. I was so impressed by the Dancing Dreams staff, the organization and the enthusiasm of the children that upon retiring, I became an adult volunteer. Attending weekly classes for 3 years, I have seen the teachers engaging the dancers, and the dancer’s joy. Additionally, the commitment of the of the teen helpers and the genuine caring friendships they have with the dancers affirms that Dancing Dreams is providing an exceptionally valuable experience to many children.
My daughter started attending Dancing Dreams in September and she loves it. She’s five and had been asking to go to a dance class for quite some time. I was so excited when I found out about this program and am very pleased with the team. They offer engaging sessions and make the kids feel so special each week.
There's no community as empowering and good-spirited as the one I've found at Dancing Dreams. I volunteered with Dancing Dreams for 3 years in high school, traveling all the way from Manhattan to Bayside, Queens for an hour each week to help my dancer, Isabel, participate in the incredible classes Joann teaches. Her energy is infectious and she brings 110% to everything she does. I have been fortunate enough to return to Dancing Dreams since graduating and volunteer when my work schedule permits. There's nothing quite as magical as watching these children get ready backstage, with nervous excitement as they wait to show their family and friends that they, too, can be ballerinas. Dancing Dreams is a special community I feel so lucky to be a part of.
I was so excited when I saw the Dancing Dreams flyer in her backpack. I had been looking for an activity just like this for her. Abrianna LOVES going to dance on Mondays. She is so excited on Sunday evenings. She pops up right away on Monday morning. I call her my little tap dancing ballerina. Everyone is WONDERFUL with her. She is smiling the entire time there. We will definitely be continuing with Dancing Dreams in the future!
My daughter Palak is a Down syndrome child. She is very loving, she loves dancing . I tried to put her in no of dance classes before but she couldn’t cope up there, then I came to know about Dancing Dreams. Dancing dreams has really provided a wonderful platform for my daughter to learn dance. Miss Joan’s selfless dedication is amazing. All the volunteers here are so dedicated and loving. The year end show is a long awaited one that increases the special needs kids’s confidence and increase their morale. I m really glad My daughter is a part of dancing dreams. She has been with DD for the past three years and enjoying dancing . I wish to be a part of it for the coming years
Dancing Dreams has been a real haven for my daughter Penelope. She started at Dancing Dreams when she was just three years old. It was the first place as a special needs mom that I was able to take her and NOT have to hold her and work with her through the whole class. She has had several different helpers in the three years she has attended Dancing Dreams and all of them have been so lovely, attentive and helpful. It is a true joy to see my daughter, who is five now and does not yet walk on her own, dance. The show at the end of each year really blows you away from costumes to performances. One of the best things I love about DD is the camaraderie with the other parents there. I have had some deeply therapeutic talks with the other parents as our kids attend class and it makes it so much more valuable as special needs parents can sometimes feel isolated from other parents. Thank you Dancing Dreams for all you have done and all you continue to do for special needs children and their families.
Dancing Dreams is a gift to a disabled child and the family.
All children love to dance and perform with the love of their family and friends smiling and applauding !
Dancing Dreams is a place where there is an enthusiastic and creative place where kids are accepted to be exactly who they are and dance beyond their expectations!
My daughter started dancing with Dancing Dreams in January 2009 and she has loved it ever since. My daughter has mild cerebral palsy and a learning disability. I feel Dancing Dreams has helped my daughter improve her self esteem as well as her balance and coordination. This is an excellent program for any child with special needs. This program helps children know that they are not alone in their struggles. It is not about what they can't do, but rather what they can do. I am very proud of my daughter and her accomplishments and feel that Dancing Dreams has contributed to her success a great deal. We are glad we found this program and that we have been part of this organization for over 9 years. We love Dancing Dreams, the organization, the staff, the helpers and Joanne. We would love to thank Dancing Dreams for the wonderful opportunity of being part of their organization.
I first found out about this organization about 10 years ago when I went to a recital because my friend’s daughter was a helper. From that year I knew I wanted to support this organization. Since then I have volunteered at recitals, weekly and organized events to raise funds for Dancing Dreams
I was a dancer during high school from 2008-2011. I have cerebral palsy and I was able to participate in dance in my wheelchair. This is an awesome program and great bonding experience for youth with physical and medical disabilities. Joann and her staff work very hard and are extremely dedicated!
Dancing Dreams has been a blessing in my son’s life. He doesn’t look forward to anything as much as he does to “dance class” as he calls it. Joann was one of Matteo’s very first PT’s at a very early age. We always noticed her self- less ways and the love she had for differently-abled children. Which is why when we heard of Dancing Dreams we were very excited for Matteo to be a part of it. The organization is very organized, the volunteers are super helpful and love what they do, everyone in the organization we have come by have been very loving and treat all the dancers with respect, inclusion and understanding. The annual show is incredible. Last year was our first and we cannot wait for the next show. The happiness and satisfaction in the dancer’s faces are just amazingly rewarding to see. We look forward to many more years with Dancing Dreams.
My 3 year old son Chad has only been dancing at Dancing Dreams for a little over a month. However, he's in love and so am I...already!! The program staff and Joann are truly amazing!! Their love, drive, optimism, and sincerity are clearly evident. I was a bit concerned the first day because my son has balance, coordination, and processing delays. I wasn't sure if anyone would really be willing to provide the support that my son would need. Within minutes, I knew we had found a place we could call "home"! Everyone was so kind, warm, and accommodating! It blew me away and brought me to tears....especially when I saw my son bow (for the first time) at the end of the first class!! It is so amazing to know that a haven such as Dancing Dreams exists where parents with child with special needs can watch their babies shine as they are celebrated for their individual beauty, strength and courage! We thank you Dancing Dreams!! LaTesha H.
My daughter Sam was born with Down Syndrome and we all know that each Down Syndrome child is different. Sam has poor communication skills but she loves to dance. Sam started Dancing Dreams in September 2017 and from the first day of class, she was already hooked on it and looked forward to going every Thursday. The director Joann is an ecstatic teacher and dancer that brings out the best in each student. She tells them to not give in and not be afraid but to step out of their comfort zone. She tells them that a dance step does not need to be perfect or great. This motto is what makes my daughter happy because it continues to give her that confidence to keep going. I cannot talk about Dancing Dreams without talking about the volunteers and helpers that are so compassionate to all the dancers. With them, Dancing Dreams works like a well oiled machine and as a parent, it makes me smile and happy that I have learnt about this non-profit organization.
I always thought my daughter Genevieve who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy wasn’t going to be able to do the things I wanted to do when I was a kid and that’s dance I look up dancing dreams and spoke with the director she’s was real nice.. my daughter is new to dancing dreams and was welcome with open arms she loves dancing dreams and I’m happy to do this with her
I've been looking to put my daughter, Emely, in ballet for some time already. This year she turned 7 yrs old, she have down syndrome and love love dance. I found Dancing dreams this year, we just have weeks into the program and is absolutely awesome. My baby is so happy dancing!! So do I when I see her!! I am really thankful for these beatiful people in Dancing Dreams.
My daughter Nicole was diagnosed at an early age with Mitochondrial Complex 1 Def. she was given a prognosis of 2 and is now 18 years old. She has been with Dancing Dreams for what I believe to be 4 years and loves it! She was so very shy and so sad that others would make fun of her dancing. But Ms. Joanne and her staff have given her a reason to smile big when dancing. If it weren't for Dancing Dreams she would never come out of her shell.
My daughter has been dancing with Dancing Dreams for 5 years. The care and attention the staff provide is amazing. The joy she gets from being with other children and by interacting with the helpers is priceless. The teen helpers lives are also changed from their interactions with the special needs children. Even after they graduate, they still come back to visit my daughter.
One element of Dancing Dreams I respect the most is the fact that they are always trying to improve. They add classes, services, etc. They are always looking to do more.
The recital is amazing - imaging having the opportunity to dance in front of 1500 people - especially when you are left out of most opportunities in your life. For these children, dancing is real - not just a dream!
My daughter has been a dancer with Dancing Dreams since she was 3 years old. She is now 10 and loves it just as much. She has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and she identifies more as a ballet dancer than anything else. Joann and her incredible helpers have given my daughter an outlet for her creativity she couldn't find elsewhere, as well as a community of peers who she has gotten to know over the years. She loves everything about the program - the physicality of it, the creativity, the weekly classes, the relationship with her helper, the preparations for the annual recital, the costumes, the butterflies before the performances and of course the exhilaration of knowing she accomplished what every other girl her age does - dancing ballet on stage alongside her friends . I can go on and on... and still never say enough good about Dancing Dreams and Joann Ferrara to match my deepest appreciation.
I have seen Dancing Dreams grow from a few dancers to over 100 in three locations. It is such a fabulous program, focusing on each child’s abilities. Listening to the children talk about how they can take dance classes like their friends and siblings is wonderful. The program gives the children confidence. The helpers and dancers also form a special bond. I love how the program is open to all, even if finances are an issue.
I cannot sit through their fabulous end of year performance without tears in my eyes. The dancers and their helpers are so proud of what they’ve accomplished. Sometimes parents see their child walk for the first time! It’s really an amazing program run by an amazing woman.
For many years I was a physical therapy patient of Joann Ferrara. One day I happened to see some special needs children doing therapy in a unique way. They were rolling balls, tracing steps, walking backwards and having such fun.
At the same time, at the desk, I noticed a book called BALLERINA DREAMS. It was the story of 5 little girls who dreamed about becoming dancers but no one wanted them. I heard of the recital they put on every year and was invited by Joann. I went to Mary Louise Academy not knowing what to expect. As the show unfolded, I became mesmerized and unashamedly cried throughout the performance. They were tears of awe, amazement at what they were doing, and how Joann was directing them from below the stage. I was hooked, and determined to be a part of this wonderful group. I have been a volunteer for about eight years, watching it become over 120 girls, 8 boys and 200 teen helpers! We help make the costumes, as sparkly and glittery as we can, prepare the kids and watch them go on stage and stun the audience each year!
Dancing Dreams has become the highlight of my life.
For the past 9 years, I have been involved with Dancing Dreams in a variety of roles. First as a high school teen “Helper,” later as an adult volunteer, and most recently as Leadership Program Director, I have experienced, firsthand, the power of this organization. I, like hundreds of other teen Helpers, am emboldened by the power of my actions and empowered by my ability to impact the lives of others. By intimately working with the physically challenged population, our eyes were opened to the innate abilities of all individuals and we were given the tools to raise disability awareness and advocate for the differently-abled. I gained confidence and self-esteem as a result of assuming responsibilities of being a role model, applicable skills that continue to sustain my academic and professional pursuits.
Started by pediatric physical therapist, Joann Ferrara, over 12 years ago, Dancing Dreams began as adaptive dance classes for physically challenged children and teens but it has grown to so very much more than that. Dancers are paired 1:1 or 1:2 with teen “Helpers” who support them at weekly dance classes and a full-scale annual performance— over 125 dancers and 200 Helpers are enrolled across 3 class sites (Manhattan, Queens, Long Island). Classes are taught by pediatric physical therapists and, by focusing on every child’s ability, all are able to experience the freeing beauty and expressiveness of dance.
But, at Dancing Dreams, the physical benefits of dance class are secondary to their emotional and psychological advantages. Extending beyond the dance studio, best friendships emerge between dancers and deep relationships develop between dancers and their teen Helpers. The strong Dancing Dreams community, connecting hundreds of families and individuals, continuously expands as a supportive network for all. The beaming faces of the audience and the dancers and Helpers at every annual performance say it all; the dancers’ achievements as they have their moment in the spotlight are shared with their family and entire community of supporters and a mutual sense of intense pride and accomplishment is palpable throughout the entire theater.
Simply put: Dancing Dreams, as a combination of the hard work of dancers, teen Helpers, teachers, adult volunteers, and staff, changes lives . Dancing Dreams transforms dreams into reality.
There are angels on earth and Joann Ferrara is one of them. The story of Dancing Dreams is a story about love, joy, community, courage, and happiness. I did not understand that when I was first made aware of Dancing Dreams by my business partner when she suggested we donate some tutus to a very small organization called Dancing Dreams that put on a dance recital in a church in queens. The dancers were children with various motor disabilities, the helpers were high school kids and the leader ( Joann) was a physical therapist who wanted to help one of her patients ‘Dance like her sister). When we donated, Joann invited us to her annual show which at that time was held at the Mary Lewis Academy in Queens. I did not want to go. I thought it would be too painful to watch, but Joann convinced us ( my business partner and me) to go.
What I could have never imagined, never could have realized was how uplifting the experience was. The joy that was on the faces of the kids, the laughter and tears of joy that were on the faces of the parents in the audience, the incredible dedication and energy from the student helpers, the bond that formed between the helpers and their dancer... and of course the sheer force of nature that emanated from Joann as she led the Dancers in each of their dance routines.
So where I thought I was see pain and struggle, what I saw was sheer joy and pride in each of the children, each of the helpers, every family member in audience. So it is with joy and pride and complete admiration that we have supported Dancing Dreams every years since.
Today Dancing Dreams has 131 dancers- boys and girls and three class sites, 200 high school volunteers. Joann and all the volunteers are truly angels in right here on earth.
I went to a recital a few years ago for the first time, and I was amazed. Simply put, Joann Ferrara is extraordinary. Her boundless energy and connection to children and their families make Dancing Dreams what it is -- a unique and compelling experience that teaches children with physical challenges to look beyond their compromises. It empowers and educates the student assistants and opens their eyes to those less fortunate than themselves. The families are overjoyed by the recitals, and their participation raises the self esteem of the children who participate. Joann should be recognized as a hero. She has created something enormous from the concept to the initial launch right through to today's version, and she continues to grow the program. She is giving the give of happiness and achievement to the children who participate. She's a true hero.
I have been an adult volunteer for Dancing Dreams for a number of years now and am so proud to be affiliated with such a wonderful nonprofit organization. Joann Ferrara started out with only a handful of girls who had big dreams of being a ballet dancer but thought they were held back due to their disabilities. Joann persevered with her girls to show them that there is nothing that can or should ever stand in their way of pursuing their dreams. There are now three schools which have opened with over 100 dancers of not only girls but boys as well. They have literally made leaps and bounds with their dancing and their auditorium is always packed full once a year with so many onlookers to watch all the progress these dancers have made not only with their abilities to be onstage performing but most importantly with their huge smiles due to their accomplishments! Dancing Dreams is a nonprofit organization which I am so proud to be affiliated with and which I always look forward to going to week after week to see all the young dancers so happy and excited to share with their fellow dancers/friends. I have also watched so many new friendships develop with one another as they all have something in common and relate so well to one another. It is a program which I truly admire and respect.
This is a wonderful program started by one of the most selfless people I know, Joann Ferrara. Dancing Dreams allows disabled little girls to take ballet lessons and participate in spectacular recitals just like other little girls their age. Each dance routine is specially choreographed and adapted to suit the abilities of each dancer. Each dancer has their own helper who is usually a local high school volunteer. On the day of their recitals, these little girls are so excited to be on stage, all made up with their beautiful costumes. When you look at their faces you see pure bliss!! There is not a dry in the audience. When one recital ends, Joann is already working on the next one. Each year it takes more planning because of the popularity of the program. From the original 5 she is now up to over 40 dancers!!
Fabulous organization!! Gives young girls with physical disabilities the ability to participate in a ballet program. Gives high school students the opportunity to volunteer as helpers for the ballerinas. Inspiring recital performance at the end of the year to a packed house. Joann Ferrara, a physical therapist with a dancing background, started this program and has seen it grow from just a handful of students to over 40 in just a few years. Bravo!!
I am a mother to a legally blind daughter with Cerebral Palsy. I was looking for after school activities for her to participate in where she would feel accepted and confident. We were lucky enough to find Dancing Dreams. A ballet school for girl's with special needs. My daughter Elizabeth loves it and has made some wonderful friends. It has helped not only with her confidence, but with her balance and movement. Before she started Dancing Dreams she could not jump without falling over. This year she played The Big Bad Wolf in the recital and jumped all over the stage. The program is run by one of the most selfless women I have ever met, Joann Ferrara.