San Jose

Ballet San Jose Holds Exclusive Performance for Special Needs Families

SAN JOSE - It’s something many of us take for granted, the ability to simply visit the theater and take in a performance. For some, it’s a far more daunting task. Recently, Ballet San Jose found a way to make that trip a little easier for dozens of people by inviting them to a performance of Cinderella.

“This is beyond words. It's so exciting,” one woman said.

“This is very rare, and it's emotional,” another said.

The ballet performed exclusively for about 100 children with autism and other special needs.

"We feel so special and so included that someone would embrace us,” said Janet Heathcote.

The families say going to the ballet, or even the movies, can prove difficult. Their children sometimes struggle to sit still or stay quiet. This time, they were told they didn’t have to do either. They had their run of the theater.

“It’s wonderful to be able to go to the ballet and have that kind of freedom, and not have anyone say, 'ugh, would you please be quiet? Can you tell your kid to stop that! None of that's going to happen today,’ Linda Gonzales said.

Janet Heathcote has three children with autism. Her oldest is 26.

“Years ago, I would have given anything for a night like this where we could go out and [my son] could have enjoyed performances like this. That didn't exist, and most people didn't know what Autism was,” Heathcote said.

Ballet San Jose School Director Dalia Rawson said it was great to have the audience.

“And it's an audience that doesn't always get the chance to come to the theater and it's great. They have wonderful reactions to everything,” Rawson said.

Parents say their kids thrive in the arts. Many who attended are dancers, but it was their first time at the Ballet.

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