Watching the dancers of Miracles in Motion glide across the stage with joy, their choreographed movements just so, you might not notice something incredible: They all have special needs. The organizers of the studio firmly believe in the benefits of movement, and that anyone can dance.
Michelle Roberts and Miracles in Motion use the power of dance and movement to focus on the fantastic things these kids, diagnosed with conditions like Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, can achieve — often to results that no one could have ever imagined, and cultivating joy and enthusiasm along the way. We worked with TIAA to spotlight Roberts’ work and get to the heart of why she, a Difference Maker 100 honoree — one of 100 people being honored as part of the TIAA Difference Maker 100 program — puts in the hours to get these children dancing.
“They can accomplish a lot,” Roberts, a volunteer instructor, said. “They can dance. It takes a little longer to work on balance, but they will get it, and their memory is even better than mine.”
Roberts got involved with Miracles in Motion at the behest of her longtime friend Kim Moncrief, the group’s founder, CEO and artistic director. Moncrief founded the group in 2007 after her son, Logan, was born with Down syndrome. Both Roberts and Moncrief are former professional dancers, and recognize the physical and therapeutic benefits of dance.
The dancers put on recitals and attend competitions, and one dancer, Taylor Carpenter, even brought home a silver medal from the Special Olympics. Carpenter has Down syndrome, and has enjoyed classes so much she has pursued the highest levels of competition.
“It really has replaced Taylor’s physical therapy,” Taylor’s mother, Jeanette Carpenter, said. “She can do so much more.”
“Oh, they’ve stolen my heart,” Roberts said of the dancers. “I mean, there’s just nowhere else I’d rather be. They just stole my heart from the first day and I never looked back.” Check out the video for more on Miracles in Motion’s incredible dancers and mission.
To celebrate its centennial, TIAA is honoring 100 people working to make positive and lasting change in the lives of others with awards of $10,000 each to use toward their nonprofit organizations. Michelle Roberts is one of those being honored. Roberts plans to use the award money to help offset the cost of props, travel, outings and competition for the troupe. We have partnered with TIAA to put the spotlight on Roberts’ story, and on other stories like hers. To learn more about the program, and the amazing work the rest of the honorees are doing, visit: www.TIAAdifferencemaker100.org.
Words by Kase Wickman