Joffrey's "The Nutcracker" gives children with disabilities a chance to dance

December 9, 2012 (CHICAGO)

There are many versions of the classic ballet this time of year but the Joffrey's stands out because it includes young dancers with disabilities.

Fifteen years ago a role as a party guest was created for children with physical disabilities. It may be a small role but it's important.

Nine-year-old Djuna Moore is one of two dancers with disabilities in this year's production. This is her second year dancing with the company.

"I play a party boy and I have a really good time and at one scene we're supposed to scare the girls with a mouse," she said.

Moore has cerebral palsy. Her father said the ballet has been a really positive experience.

"We love it and we were hoping all year long that we would be cast to do it again and here she is," Christian Moore said.

Ballet is all about using the body to speak.

"It's wonderful when we have somebody like Djuna who is very animated and just really loves being on stage and she is very smart," Joffrey ballet master Willy Shives said.

"How fortunate that we are to be able to have children like that that are in a wheelchair with disabilities," Shives said.

"They don't have to have this role for a disabled child to participate but they do," Christian Moore said. "They take the time and the effort to include my daughter and Jasmine, the other child who is doing her role, it's just a great feeling to know that they you know consider us."

"It's magical and I just feel I fit in," Djuna Moore said.

"The Nutcracker" is now at the Auditorium Theatre until December 27. There are matinees and evening performances.

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