The shy 5-year-old stood in her pink leotard as 10 other children danced and laughed in a mirror-filled studio at Dance Revolutions in Spring Lake.
The dancers meet for an hour every Thursday as part of a first-time special-needs dance class.
Riley’s mother, Kathy, said her Mary A. White Elementary School student enjoys music, and the class is different than the therapy her non-verbal daughter receives at school and at Generation Care.
After being born prematurely and weighing a scant 1 pound, 2 ounces, Riley suffered two brain bleeds, which impacted her speech, balance and vision. Kathy said her “miracle baby” relies on sign language and a communication device at school to help others understand her limited vocabulary.
Once the family returns home from dance class, the Grand Haven woman said her daughter is anxious to show them the moves she learned.
“It brightens my day to see her like that,” Kathy said.
Elsewhere at the Spring Lake studio, Stephanie Miller’s rainbow-colored tutu bounced as she moved her hips to the music. The 9-year-old’s friend, Evie Holwerda, joined her in front of the mirror in the dance studio. Together, the girls admired their dance moves as their classmates spun around throughout the room behind them.
When the Norton Shores friends meet each Thursday for dance class, it gives them a chance to spend time together and have fun.
Every Thursday morning, Stephanie, who has Down syndrome, anxiously reminds her mother she has dance class because she looks forward to it.
“Because it’s fun,” Stephanie said.
Her mother, Barb, said Stephanie became involved in the class after a friend mentioned it.
Barb said she wanted her daughter to experience a place where she could have fun and meet new children. The class also gives Barb a chance to talk and relax with other parents.
The Ross Park Elementary School third-grader has previously stayed active with soccer, T-ball, music and dance camps, tennis, and cheerleading.
“Her diagnosis isn’t the most important thing about her,” Barb said.
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.