Sharon Grimet’s dancing career began when she was a little girl in Glasgow, Scotland. Ultimately, it will take her halfway across the world to Nashville, where she will win two country western line dance world championship titles.
Now her home base is a small studio in Walkersville, tucked away in a tall brick building on West Frederick Street.
“It’s the best drug ever,” Grimet says of the dance, his thick Scottish accent and his shining eyes. She has been teaching it since the age of 12.
When her second daughter was born, however, her craft took on new meaning.
Teighan, now six, has cerebral palsy – and she lives to dance. But Grimet and her husband remember taking her to ballet lessons at the local YMCA, only to see her become frustrated when she couldn’t jump or spin quite like other kids.
For example, at the new Sharon’s School of Dance, Grimet offers free weekly lessons for children and adults with disabilities. It’s a service she and others say the community has been sorely lacking – especially since the start of the pandemic.
“I want this to be a community dance school,” Grimet said. ” There is something for every taste. “
She really thinks it: the studio offers classes for toddlers, seniors, and anyone in between. There is line dancing, tap dancing, hip hop and even burlesque.
But it is the courses for disabled dancers of which Grimet seems most proud.
She takes Teighan to physiotherapy sessions seven times a week. When she asked doctors about the nearest dance lessons for disabled children, she was told to look in Silver Spring or Baltimore. And the offerings were expensive.
Grimet therefore took matters into his own hands. Owning a studio has long been her dream, she said.
Colette Hough, from Middletown, brings her 25-year-old daughter, Anna, and her best friend, Heather, to Grimet’s class every week. Anna uses a wheelchair and doesn’t speak, but a smile appears on her face as she walks into the studio on Thursday morning. Hough can tell she likes it.
“She loves music,” Hough said. “It’s his life.”
Every week, as soon as Anna arrives, Grimet plays her favorite song: “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. Hough will lift his daughter up and dance with her. When her arms get tired, she’ll put her back in her wheelchair and spin her around the room.
“She lowers her head a lot, but I can see her smile,” Hough said.
For each song played during the half-hour session, Grimet hands out different colorful props – like pom poms, scarves or pool noodles – to enhance the sensory experience.
At a recent class, a handful of dancers, some assisted by their caregivers, rocked the room to catchy songs like “Cupid Shuffle” and “YMCA”. Grimet floated between them, smiling and uttering words of encouragement above the roar of the music.
For parents and guardians of regular class participants, the Thursday morning sessions have become a valuable social experience.
“It gives you interaction,” said Camille Turgeon, who brings her son, Tyler, to class. “When these adults with special needs become adults, they no longer have a school. Many daytime programs were cut off during COVID. So stuff like that is very important, or it doesn’t get much.
Brandon Dyer, another regular participant, clapped and cheered at the start of each new song. He circled around under the gaze of his guardian, Jenna Coblentz.
“It’s amazing that [Grimet] does that – and at no cost, ”Coblentz said.
At the end of class, Brandon walked around the room, hugging everyone he could.
“He loves everyone,” Coblentz said, smiling as he looked at him. “He loves going out. “