Rhythm Works Integrative Dance
by Tricia Gomez
Rhythm Works Integrative Dance is a continuing education program offered under the umbrella of Dance - In a Box. The for-profit company is owned and operated by myself, Tricia Gomez, along with the advisory panel consisting of 2 occupational therapists, a pediatric physical therapist, and a Dr. of Early Childhood Education, SpEd.
In my 21st week of pregnancy, I lost my son and almost died in the process. That experience left me with a deep sense of purpose that there was something more I needed to do. With eyes wide open, I paid attention to the signs and opportunities that crossed my path and through that, the idea of a clinical dance program that would assist in reaching developmental milestones and therapeutic goals began to take root. I, along with my advisory panel, took my existing Hip Hop Made Easy program, dismantled it and rebuilt it piece by piece with intention and purpose. Each part of the program serves a specific purpose and can be customized to fit the needs of any student.
Currently, Rhythm Works Integrative Dance Certified Instructors can be found on every continent! Dance teachers, therapists, academic educators, physical educators, and coaches can attend in-person Premium or Hybrid certification workshops throughout the year, or opt to do the self-paced certification completely online. Our goal is to have 20,000 certified instructors by the end of 2019! The more instructors certified, the more opportunity there will be for students of differential abilities to participate in the arts! Our RWID Certified Instructors serve the special needs population. This may be a student with subtle learning differences or a student with severe Cerebral Palsy who is wheelchair bound with very limited range of motion. Everyone deserves a chance to dance!
I hear this all the time from many different students. It never gets old.
The Rhythm Works Integrative Dance program uses fun and functional movement done in a simple commercial hip hop style. Our focus is more on learning about the body and how it can be used. We work on fundamentals like crossing the midline, sequencing, bilateral motor coordination, and building strength and endurance in the areas needed to achieve goals.
Research is beginning to show that dance can help to rewire the brain. There is an entire population of kids and adults who lack participation opportunities, and I deeply feel that they are the ones who can benefit the most from a goal-driven dance program. Many dance educators would like to extend opportunities to participate to unconventional dancers, but fear and lack of confidence cause roadblocks. It's my goal to remove those roadblocks through education. When you understand something (like behavior) and have the tools to effectively work through the challenges, you realize the true impact you can have on a student and their family.
Because we have a diverse group of learners, we use lots of visual teaching aids. One of our favorites using colored shapes on the floor to provide a visual cue of where you'd like the student's feet to go. For example, to teach a simple step touch, place a red heart on the right side and a yellow circle on the left side. As you physically demonstrate stepping and touching from 1 color to the other, give the verbal cue "red, red, yellow, yellow, red red, yellow, yellow. You'll see the learning curve skyrocket!
I immersed myself into continuing education classes meant for therapists and special education teachers. In addition, my team of advisors took the time to educate, review and helped correlate this in formation to the dance world. I continue to education myself by taking continuing education classes every other month. I've taken classes on a wide variety of topics, including apraxia of speech, executive function, cognitive delay/decline, sign language, sensory integration and so many others! Each class offers a few nuggets that I can carry back to class.
Anything is possible! I'm constantly blown away by the courage and determination of our students. But one of the life changing lessons I've learned is to celebrate the small things. We take so much for granted, but seeing the pride and joy on the face of a kid when they jump for the first time puts everything into perspective.
“In my professional experience with kids who have disabilities, I have seen academic delays disappear while social issues linger. The benefits of Rhythm Works Integrative Dance program cannot be highlighted enough. Rhythm Works targets all five developmental domains, and more importantly, fills a gap that many educational and community programs fail to address. Being involved in RW facilitates development of a positive self-concept and self-esteem among kids with disabilities and their peers. Plus…it’s fun! ”
— Dr. Shaana Berman, Ed.D. Education Specialist
I have 2 quotes that guide me and I try to instill in our RWID Certified Instructors:
"When you know better, you do better." - Maya Angelou
"Be the best that you can be, so she can be the best she can be." - Me :)