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Ballet Theatre Company of West Hartford Seeking Support of Sensory-Friendly Performance

Jo-ann Burke from Ballet Theatre Company starred as Cinderella. Costume design by Pat Nurnberger. Photo by Thomas Giroir

For the community, from the community: Fundraiser for Ballet Theatre Company’s all-ages sensory-friendly performance of ‘Cinderella.’

By Brianna Dunlap

Ballet Theatre Company (BTC) invites the West Hartford community to help make the arts accessible to everyone.

A major part of our mission is to make dance accessible to all through our Community Enrichment Program that serves Greater Hartford. Through its programming, BTC strives to reach as many people as possible through dance classes, as well as providing opportunities for people with diverse sensory and cognitive abilities to enjoy professional ballet performances. 

To include community members with Autism, sensory sensitivities or other social, cognitive, and physical challenges in theater settings, BTC launched The Sensory-Friendly Ballet, a customized experience so everyone can feel safe and comfortable during the performance.

BTC’s Sensory-Friendly Ballet program provides a welcoming environment beyond what families expect at a typical theatrical ballet performance. This performance is also a great option for families with young ones, too, with the freedom to move from their seats and exit the theater when necessary.

This community-based fundraiser will greatly offset the cost of tickets so that families with Autistic and sensory-sensitive members can afford to enjoy recreation time together. 

Sometimes we need a little boost. BTC asks the community to help raise $20,000 before April 20th to offset ticket prices for its upcoming Sensory-Friendly Ballet production of Cinderella at The Bushnell on April 30, 2023. To donate, visit dancebtc.org/sensory-friendly-ballet and click the Donate button. 

There is a term that families with special needs children use, “split families.” The term is used because parents must sometimes leave a child with sensory sensitivities at home with one parent because public areas are not equipped to support the needs of their child. It’s heartbreaking. Yet, with a sensory-sensitive show, a whole family can go out and enjoy a performance together. That is the heart of why BTC is offering a Sensory-Sensitive Ballet program and why it looks to the community for support. Each donation from you will help another family facing high medical bills, therapy costs, and transportation fees be together for the show. Together, we can give beautiful experiences to families right here in West Hartford and Greater Hartford communities.

Here is some feedback from BTC’s first Sensory-Friendly Ballet that motivates us to keep offering this show; it made us smile, and it will make you smile, too.

“This is the first time our entire family will see the show, and that means more to us than I can say.” – West Hartford parent

“Just wanted to congratulate you on a gorgeous Nutcracker production! It was amazing – rave reviews all around! Thanks also for the inclusion of the sensory-friendly Nutcracker this morning. [My children] being there. I have never felt comfortable having them attend “regular” performances. …having the staff there to help, the dimmed lights, softer music, and a very understanding audience were huge helps.” – a mother of children with sensory sensitivities.

Two audience members enjoying the day at the Sensory-Friendly Nutcracker Ballet in 2022. Photo by Ballet Theatre Company

Here is How You Can Help

The standard price of tickets is between $45 and $80. For families facing high medical bills, this makes taking a family of four to a show impossible. So, BTC is looking to crowd-fund to lower the prices of the tickets. Every donation helps offset the cost of the ballet production. BTC will directly apply any funding to go toward the technical aspects of the sensory-friendly event. The more donations that BTC receives translate into ticket price discounts that BTC will announce and share via its community partners (agencies that serve children with disabilities).

To donate, visit dancebtc.org/sensory-friendly-ballet and click the Donate button. To donate by check, please note Sensory Friendly on the memo and mail it to Ballet Theatre Company, 20 Jefferson Ave Suite #7, West Hartford, CT 06110. Mailed donations will be accepted past the April 20th deadline. As a thank-you, all donors will receive special recognition in the Cinderella ballet playbill.

More information on the Sensory-Sensitive Ballet

BTC is working in partnership with The Bushnell’s staff and consulting from The Miracle League of Connecticut #miracleleagueofCT to make the entire performance come to life. Comfort and fidget, and accessibility resources are available before, during, and after the performance.

Additionally, ticket buyers of BTC’s Sensory-Friendly Ballet will have the opportunity to “meet their seat” before the performance date. Ticket buyers can even schedule an appointment with The Bushnell’s front-of-house to allow participants to get acclimated to the space upon arrival to the theater on show day, walk through the theater, scan their seats and prepare for a smooth visit.

The Sensory-Friendly performance of Cinderella is on Sunday, April 30 at 11 a.m. in the Bushnell’s Maxwell M. & Ruth R. Belding Theater. BTC thanks the Petit Family Foundation and the Triumph Group Foundation for their support.

Visit bushnell.org to purchase your tickets or scan the QR Code in the featured picture.

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