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IN THE SPOTLIGHT


DISCUSSION WITH JASMINE MATHEW


JASMINE’S BEAT CREATOR TALKS ABOUT HER ADAPTIVE FUSION CLASSES + WHAT IT’S LIKE TO TEACH STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES


DCNT: Tell us a little about yourself. JM: I am a married mom of 3 little kids and a CTRS, or a “Recreation Therapist”, an adaptive dance choreographer,


a disability awareness advocate and hopefully, a


kindness spreader.


an Usborne I


Bharatnatyam dance, a classical form of book consultant,


had started learning Indian


dance when I was around 6 years old. I also maintained my love of music and dance, growing up on Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul. Throughout high school and college, performed in Bollywood performances the India Day parade, different


I during Indian cultural


organization ceremonies, and ISAT (Temple U.) shows. (“Go Owls!”). I also continued working 2 therapist jobs and taught bollywood dance through Arya Dance Academy in Nyack, NY for many years in NY. I moved to Texas about 6 years ago and trained and began teaching introductory jazz and


ballet to local preschools through a company called “Stretch & Grow”. My kids got involved in dance at Next Step Dance in Frisco, and I persisted in trying to start an adaptive fusion dance class that I could lead there. They moved to a beautiful facility in The Star in Frisco, which was much more accessible and spacious, conducive to what I would love to have for a class. In 2018, adaptive fusion classes from “Jasmine’s Beat” began there. Coincidentally, at the same time, I also worked with some music therapists who led an adaptive theater group for students with disabilities at North Texas Performing Arts


in Plano, for called “Starcatchers”. I began


teaching adaptive choreography for their musical shows as well as led adaptive dance workshops. I also continued to work as a contract recreation therapist


community/home-based agencies


that work with both youth and adults. I’ve actually worked as a recreation therapist since 2001 with


4 • DANCE NORTH TEXAS • NOVEMBER 2020 – JANUARY 2021 very different


day centers for rehabilitation


populations, hospitals,


infants and toddlers, pediatric nursing homes,


including medical acute


rehab facilities, psychiatric hospitals, and assisted living centers. I think I grew in my fascination with my career as the populations changed a lot! And now, I linked up my passion to my professional education, which I think is what anyone would want to attain ultimately. DCNT: What is Jasmine’s Beat all about? JM: I created “Jasmine’s Beat” because I wanted to own a creative platform that involves adapting choreography, classes, while


costumes, music, also


offering lighting, opportunities


and to


be inclusive for students in their own right. So, there may be classes for students with sensory sensitivities th at


require smaller group classes


and more one on one instruction/modifications. There may be classes specific to a disability purely


CUE UP:


to provide an opportunity to have a social motivation to feel understood and welcomed. There may be inclusive opportunities to provide sensory sensitive recitals, within a typical setting, which, in turn, provides education to the viewing audience about disability awareness and capabilities. Ultimately, these classes would provide a way to learn and perform dance, no matter the disability, and as a therapist, therapeutic interventions would also be incorporated throughout the classes, which would empower the students with life skills. DCNT: What is Adaptive Fusion Dance? JM: Adaptive Fusion Dance is the use of various dance


styles and techniques while making


modifications as needed for each student and accommodating to the class group as a whole. It currently uses skills from ballet, jazz, hip-hop, bollywood, broadway and ballroom. We are currently looking for assistant instructors with tap experience. The incredible thing about this dance class, is that, in the end, there is a sensory-sensitive recital that is offered as a voluntary choice, and if they follow through on it, the way that each student dances together, within their own capabilities, and as a choreographer, watching it all “gel” together on stage, is AMAZING. Even if they don’t decide on performing at the recital, their excitement about dance is brought back into their daily living skills at home.


DCNT: How many performances do you have per year and when is the next one? JM: The company


is still fairly new and still


working even harder to obtain students, in this pandemic era. So unfortunately, there are not many performances in-person at the moment. However, we were lucky enough to have a performance with the Next Step Dance end-of-year recital, because of safety precautions taken. Currently, there is an Adaptive Fusion Dance class for all ages there on Fridays at 4pm. Once we can get enough students, we would love to start a Teen-specific adaptive dance class there as well. There are and have been several virtual performances through North Texas Performing Arts. The upcoming ones are: Adaptive Choreography and assistant directing of


“The


Wayfinder” (Think Moana), which has rehearsals on Thursdays evenings and virtual performances in November, and Adaptive dance workshops in the spring. Some classes and performances were postponed with:


the Dallas VA through Dance


Council of North Texas, Scottish Rite Hospital for Children Frisco- Recreation Therapy, Home-school toddlers & kids Adaptive Dance at 4 The Love of Dance in Frisco, and Seniors’ Adaptive Dance through the Allen Recreation Center. So, there is a lot to expect out of 2021-2022! The best way to keep up with what is happening next is to go to my website: jasminesbeat.com.


DCNT: Tell us about your instructional classes for teachers. JM: Recently, we got accreditation from the National


Council of Therapeutic Recreation


Certification to teach an Adaptive Dance Workshop to fellow therapists and teachers. The workshop is a full-day learning adventure in understanding where Jasmine’s Beat ideology began, adaptations


and modifying movements


learning in


an


inclusive or a specified class, understanding social- emotional needs of students with special needs or in a rehabilitative setting, and tying in adaptive yoga, and journal studies on proper movement completed


by local chiropractors. Based


feedback, the participants enjoyed most the mock dance classes, that are based on functional levels, provided during the workshop. DCNT: What do think is the most important take away of working with a dance therapist for any type of educator (dance or otherwise)? JM: I


think the most important take-away of


working with a therapist for any type of educator is the recognition of safety and different learning mechanisms. It provides them safety in knowing that there is someone knowledgeable on how to deal with students with emotional disorders, who have an outburst or meltdown during a group setting, for example. It also allows them to create proper modifications


for adaptive equipment,


on


based on training. For example, someone who uses a stander to dance with just their upper body, or using a sip and puff method of communicating, while having very little mobility, can still have enjoyment of attending a dance class because their brain neurons are firing! A therapist knows that an AFO is a brace that can be taken off, or monitored during use, and can inform another educator if it is beneficial to use or take off during class. The possibility of 100% inclusiveness works best when you can adapt how you teach a class. I’ve learned this well as a therapist, when I work with a team of other disciplines as well! As a dancer, I have not stopped learning and will keep learning about more dance styles so that I can incorporate it into what I teach, so there is plenty to learn in the other direction as well. Here is the link for the recent podcast I was on! (Creative Therapies Umbrella Podcast) https:// podcasts.google.


5 • DANCE NORTH TEXAS • NOVEMBER 2020 – JANUARY 2021


Class photos by Everywhere Networking


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