How can studio spaces become more inclusive of neurodivergent dancers? Jennifer Milner, Madeleine’s mother and a dance and Pilates instructor, says that it’s important to create space for individual needs. This can be as simple as respecting when dancers don’t feel comfortable being touched, or when they may be having what Milner calls a “red button day”—when stress, anxiety, or other stressors make corrections and critiques difficult to receive.
I was diagnosed with autism a few months ago, at age 25, but I’ve been autistic my whole life. In many ways ballet class has been a safe place for me, even before I knew why I craved routine, environments with explicit rules, and social situations that don’t necessitate talking.
At first I didn’t consider the possibility of becoming a dance major. In high school, I wanted to be a doctor. I started college on the pre-med track, but found myself waking up in the middle of the night with an urge to express myself physically. I would get out of bed and go dance […]