Keeper of the Plans

Inclusive dance studio highlights performers of all abilities

Every week at rehearsal, the kids in Laynna Badgett’s class at Dance Reflections get time to “freestyle.”

This past week, she asked them what song they wanted to dance to — and quickly got her answer.

“I can’t believe I’m gonna... OK, I will play that song if you guys keep it PG,” she said. “You know what that means? PG means keep it nice, not too sassy.”

As T-Pain’s “Low” blared over the speakers, each dancer, one by one, sashayed out to the center of the dance floor, giddily dancing along to their favorite freestyle song.

Her dancers have been having fun on a weekly basis for the past decade, and the studio will soon celebrate its 10-year anniversary.

Dance Reflections caters specifically to students with disabilities — though Badgett said it’s about celebrating the unique abilities each dancer has.

“Our kids are worthy and deserving of this one beautiful life we have, and if we can make art while we do that, then that’s wonderful,” said Badgett, 30. “We try to share our love and joy for dance.”

Badgett started the studio in 2009, after discovering a passion for working with special-needs individuals in high school, she said.

“I just found more meaning in life with that community than I did anywhere else,” she said. “I get more out of this community than they do from me, for sure. I just love the people that I serve and think that they just deserve the best life possible.”

In the past three years, her students have been entering in the Stage One dance competition in Wichita, where they regularly win awards. The group has been invited to national competition before, Badgett said, and she said in the future they will fundraise to attend.

Dancing gives 20-year-old Ashley Reeder something to look forward to every week.

She practices the routines at home and is basically always dancing, “whether its on the Wii or in her room,” said her mother, Pam Reeder.

She started with Dance Reflections about 8 years ago.

“It was nice to see that there was a place that she could go and dance, just like she saw her older sister,” Pam Reeder said. “Then she started to develop friendships and I started developing friendships with the parents.

“Once I found the diamond in the rough, I was telling everybody else about it, too.”

Shortly after breaking a sweat dancing at a recent rehearsal, 30-year-old Andrew Ewald gushed about the program to an Eagle reporter.

“This is nice — I love to dance a lot,” he said. “Dancing is fun.”

Dance Reflections’ 10-year anniversary showcase, “We Belong,” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, at Valley Center High School, 9600 N. Meridian.

The show will feature guest dancers from Los Angeles dance troupe Straight Up Abilities. Some of the dancers with that group have been featured on the A&E TV show, “Born This Way.”

Tickets are $10, and may be purchased at the door or in advance on Eventbrite.com.

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.
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