ABLE Program



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“Dance is an artistic form that provides participants an opportunity to learn through use of the body in motion.” -M. Zitomer (2011)

ABLE Program 
Some years ago, Galynn White, a little girl who had been born with osteogenesis imperfecta, announced to her respite care provider, Jerry Hull, that she wanted to become a ballerina when she grew up. Jerry called School of Minnesota Ballet to see what could be done. In 1990 School of Minnesota Ballet was delighted to establish a ballet class geared for children with physical or developmental challenges, recognizing that the joy of dance should be for everyone.

For 31 years, the School of Minnesota Ballet has provided adaptive ballet classes to differently abled children, recognizing that the joy of dance can and should be experienced by everyone.

Class Description:

Like all courses offered by the school, we want to expose ABLE students to the joy of movement while developing self-esteem, social skills, musicality, motor and recall skills, and the discipline to respond to oral and/or visual cues. 

Classes begins with isolation exercises that warm up muscles and increase general flexibility and focus. Once muscles are warmed up, students engage in various exercises and activities to build muscle and coordination, all adapted to suit their individual ability and needs. Consistent, teacher-led movement activities include traveling floor patterns, movement games, balancing exercises, learning short combinations, free dance and more. Small class sizes allow each student to receive individual attention and encouragement. 

We offer two different types of classes to better accommodate students’ range of experience, needs, and abilities:


Class Options:

ABLE SF I (ages 5-9) and II (ages 10-18) are geared towards students who require assistance in class and/or need a more sensory friendly environment. Classes are 45 minutes long and dancers can wear anything they feel comfortable moving in, other than street shoes. They are held at Essentia’s Miller Hill Health Plaza’s Center for Personal Fitness in a studio with adjustable lighting and minimal outside distractions. The CPF studio is near the building entrance and easily accessible by chair or with a walking aid. Instructors are assisted by College of Saint Scholastica physical therapy students. Sessions are 6 weeks long and at the end of each session, families are invited into the studio to see what their dancer has been working on.

To view the CPF studio space, click here 

To meet our current ABLE SF I and II instructors and volunteers, click here

ABLE En Avant (formerly Creative Dance) is geared toward more experienced movers who require minimal to no physical assistance and is open to students ages 8 through adult. The hour-long classes are structured around traditional ballet barre and center work that is adapted to fit and challenge each dancer. By teacher invitation, students in this class may audition for roles in Minnesota Ballet productions such as The Nutcracker. At the end of the year, the class performs on stage as part of the School of Minnesota Ballet Spring Showcase. Dancers are encouraged to wear dance or athletic attire and ballet or jazz shoes. Classes are held in Minnesota Ballet’s Studio 2 at the historic Depot and follow the School of Minnesota Ballet’s two-semester schedule.

To see an example of some En Avant center work, click here

Financial aid is available. 

ABLE program coordinator and instructor Suzie Baer is a retired Minnesota Ballet dancer who has been teaching since 2008. Over the years, she has worked with students ages 3-65 and beginner to pre-professional. She is passionate about making dance accessible to all. Suzie first became involved with ABLE (formerly Creative Dance) as a student assistant and was the lead instructor for the program from 2010-2017. After a few years hiatus to complete her BS in Communications and MSc in Dance Science and Education, Suzie is thrilled to be back with School of Minnesota Ballet and ABLE.

For more information on how to register, or tuition,

Program Director Suzie Baer   [email protected]
Executive Director-Kelli Latuska    [email protected]
Artistic Director-Karl von Rabenau    [email protected] 
Principal Teacher-LilaAnn Coates White  [email protected]


The Creative Dance Program is supported by the Van Gorden Fund of the Miller-Dwan Foundation.