A 6-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was rejected by her original dance class was welcomed with open arms into Amanda’s Academy of Dance in Edmonton, Canada, and karma came back with a viral video.
Having Down syndrome doesn’t stop Ana Malaniuk from putting on a dazzling show with her dance instructor to a mashup of “Shut Up and Dance” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” The video ran up a tally of over 1o,000 hits since it was posted at the end of March.
Sonja Malaniuk, Ana’s mom, told Global News that the little rocker loves to bust a move.
“She always liked dancing when the music came on, she liked the beat so I said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.'”
But the original studio turned Ana away.
“We had a bad experience at one of the studios. We were told she wasn’t welcome, she wasn’t to their standards.”
Amanda Desousa, owner of the studio which welcomed Amanda, said that inclusion is a priority.
“I just feel that it’s very important that any little girl or boy who wants to dance should be able to dance and be given the opportunity.”
One little girl turned away from a dance school is now prepping for her first competition. Go Ana! https://t.co/vBMEwmKaDb
— ThoughtBasis (@Thought_Basis) April 9, 2016
Desousa said that the studio welcomes students with different abilities. She has owned Amanda’s Academy of Dance for 15 years.
“It’s great for the kids, it’s great for our instructors and it’s great for our other students as well. Seeing the confidence and seeing the friendships that are made is probably the most rewarding, on top of, of course, learning to dance and the dance training.”
Since Ana joined the academy a year ago, her mom said her growth has been incredible.
“She’s met so many friends. Her confidence has grown hugely and she just loves it. To see her on the stage, to see her with the teachers, to see her happy… It’s amazing to see that people are willing to give her a chance.”
Another music lover with special needs was given a chance recently, by none other than rocker Steven Tyler.
A shopping trip to a Wellington Ontario medical supply store turned into a dream-come-true for 23-year-old Aerosmith superfan, Anthony Yorfido.
Yorfido, who has Down syndrome, had unsuccessfully tried getting tickets for a pair of sold-out Steven Tyler solo shows at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls.
His mother Diane told CBC News that Anthony’s luck suddenly changed on that Thursday afternoon.
“I was picking up my pantyhose and I saw a stretch limo outside… I went in and Steven Tyler was leaned over on the counter and he had a couple ladies with him.”
Then, Anthony spotted Tyler. Diane described the moment.
“Anthony was standing behind me … [and] he just said, ‘Oh my god.’ He went nuts. He goes, ‘Is that Steven Tyler?’ Like he totally knows him because he loves Aerosmith, he loves Steven Tyler. He listens to his music all the time.”
Anthony says he is a “really, really, really, really, really, really big” Aerosmith fan, and he recognized Tyler immediately. He watched American Idol when Tyler was a judge.
“I knew it was him because I saw the back of him. I saw the limo outside. I knew. I saw his ponytail.”
The two hugged, and when Anthony explained that he couldn’t get tickets, Tyler said he could get them backstage passes. He invited them to come to the show.
What happened at the concert was something Anthony will surely never forget.
As Tyler started the set with the Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” he invited Anthony to join him onstage and even gave him a pair of yellow shakers.
“Anthony in the house!” Tyler yelled, before charging to the front of the stage to finish the song.
Anthony told CBC News that he never saw that coming.
“I was shocked. I didn’t know I was going on stage. I was really, really excited to meet him. It was my dream come true.”
Diane said they have remained in touch with Tyler’s crew, exchanging photos and texts.
“He just stopped in to get a back brace because his back was sore and he said to me, he said, ‘I didn’t stop in here to get a back brace… I stopped in here to meet my new friend Anthony.'”
[Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP]