NATASHA DEL TORO: Coming up on America ReFramed... KATHLEEN: When the idea first came up, I was, like, "Dancing?
I can't even stand."
DEL TORO: A unique dance program puts children with physical disability in the spotlight.
LAURA: When we went to Dancing Dream, she was looking around, and she was, like, "Look, Mommy, she's wearing braces, too!"
(gasps): "And her!
DEL TORO: Together with family and friends, the dancers prepare for a show.
MAYA: You got to Dancing Dreams when you're a kid to be a real ballerinas on stage.
DEL TORO: A joyful portrait of determination, family, and possibility.
CAITLIN: I want people to know that I can do anything.
DEL TORO: "Perfectly Normal For Me," next, on America ReFramed.
♪ Funding for America ReFramed is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Additional funding is provided by the Wyncote Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Reva and David Logan Foundation, and the Park Foundation.
♪ WOMAN: Here's these 11s.
- Okay, so that's-- that's a pair?
JAKE: It's not 5:15 yet?
- No, it's 5:00.
- Oh, 5:00, okay.
So we start in 15 minutes.
♪ You don't want to dance today?
You want to go home?
- Is that how you do it?
- (laughing): Yeah.
♪ Roman's a little shy today.
♪ KIDS: Ta-da!
♪ LAURA (speaking Spanish): RENE (speaking Spanish): LAURA: RENE: Go, Mami, go.
RENE: Be careful, be careful.
RENE: Who wants hot chocolate?
(Laura speaking in background) - Yay!
(appliance bell dings) ♪ There's a little problem inside your ear.
- Oh, my goodness, what is inside?
- Look, Mommy, I learned by myself... (toy beeping) (Maya gasps) LAURA: Alexandria and Maya are fraternal twins.
Alexandria was a premature baby.
She was two pounds when she was born.
She has cerebral palsy.
A lot of people still don't understand what CP is.
It's an injury in the brain that, you know, it affects... With Alexandria, it just affected her legs, and part of her, you know, arms, but nothing with her learning.
Here, put your socks on, please.
(toy whooping) - Mommy!
- Baby, you have to... - Mommy, I want my... - Listen.
- Shoulders back.
LAURA: TheraTogs is like a body suit.
Put it on, and then you put the Velcro on, and then you put the straps in the back and on her tushy and on her legs.
You're trying to correct her posture, and that keeps her from slouching, keeps her really up straight, and her walking does improve a lot when she wears them.
Right here, I'm gonna bring your braces for you.
- Oh, no braces.
- You know we didn't do the exercise this morning, right?
Should we do them right now?
(Laura chuckles) LAURA: Certain family members and friends, it's, like, "No, no, you know, she's wearing braces, "but when she get-- gets older, she's not gonna wear them."
She might wear them for the rest of her life.
(Maya laughing) ♪ (talking in background) (Maya laughing) RENE: Alex, enough.
♪ - I don't want to go.
- Let's go ask Joann if I took them off...
If she says yes, I'll take them off, okay?
- Oh, you don't want to wear those?
(quietly): Come here, I have to tell you something.
We could put two tutus on, and then nobody will say.
Would that be a good idea?
Should we try that?
Wanna try that?
We'll put two tutus.
Or three, even!
Let's try these on.
Oh, my gosh!
Look at that.
What do you think?
Is that going to be... Hey!
(Maya giggles) Hey, you.
What do you think?
Is that okay?
♪ LAURA: When we went to Dancing Dream, she was looking around and she was, like, "Look, Mommy, she's wearing braces, too!"
(gasps): "And her!
Like, it was, like, "Okay, so now it's not just me."
MAYA: You go to Dancing Dreams when you're a kid to be a real ballerinas on stage.
♪ ALEXANDRIA: I wasn't scared one little pickety pie!
(both giggling) - I saw two boys!
I saw two boys!
ELIZABETH: Yeah, Miss Joann let some boys in this year.
GIRL: But why?
Everybody sit down.
Jake wants to speak.
The thing that I wanted to talk to you about was the boys' division.
I was, like, "Joann, why isn't there any boys in Dancing Dreams?"
So I was, so... Me and Joann were thinking it would be good to start a boys' class, because the reason why these boys are here are because of I starting the boys' division.
So I hope you like the boys here.
(cheering and applauding) JAKE: Sometimes I do stuff that people cannot do.
I mean, that's what I think is kind of better about me, is that disability child... People could do some things that kids can't do.
JOANN: Go, boys!
JAKE: Oh, I love this song!
(rock song playing in background) NATALIE: Jake's been going to therapy with Joann for about two years now.
At the age of two, he wasn't walking at all, so we knew that this was serious.
There was something wrong.
So we took him to a doctor, and she says, "I don't need an MRI."
She said he's got spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.
As he was growing, the muscles didn't grow at the same rate as his bones.
JOANN: Okay, here we go!
For those of you who are new to the divas, we have a tradition.
Everybody get in!
(children laughing) Oh!
- Out... in... VERONICA: I don't really remember, but according to Joann, I said something along the lines of, "I want to be a dancer, but I can't because nobody wants me."
And then I guess once I said that, it was just like the final straw.
That's when she started it.
I've been going there since I was five.
I think it's kind of sad that I had the thought in my head that nobody wanted me, and that was the reason I couldn't be or do something that I wanted.
No person should ever think that, especially a five-year-old, 'cause when you're five, you think you can jump off the bed in a homemade cape you made, and fly.
Even when your parents tell you you can't, you're still gonna try and do it.
♪ - March.
(piano playing) JOANN: Our dancers have a variety of physical challenges, from spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy.
It really runs the gamut.
(piano playing) (laughing): And... stomp!
Both hands-- boom!
Kathleen, why don't you come up in the front?
KATHLEEN: I graduated from Dancing Dreams in spring of 2011.
When the idea first came up, I was, like, "Dancing?
I can't even stand."
What a privilege it was to be with all the girls in the dance class, and how it gave us an opportunity to be graceful and beautiful in this society that we live in.
Most people don't think of our bodies as falling into that category.
- One, two, three.
Okay, wait, Let me go.
CAITLIN: I think we need to go around more because...
I don't feel my foot.
STEVE: So you have to be settled, right?
So when you walk out to the front... See, just remember, she's not as delicate as you think she is.
- You can throw her around.
(woman laughs) Okay, you ready?
Are you... are you settled?
- Okay, so when you're settled, I'm gonna grab your hands and I'm gonna say, "Go," and you're gonna lift your leg, and I'm gonna spin you around.
Try and keep your balance and then do your bow.
STEVE: She has cerebral palsy.
It's mostly her arms and her legs.
And she's very strong-willed and smart, so it's a very dangerous combination for a mom and dad.
One, two, three, go.
JOANN: Straight-- core, core, core!
CAITLIN: It all started because of my sister.
I said to my mom, "I wanna dance with my sister."
My mom called Joann and said, "Bring her in."
It started when I was five years old.
I've been dancing for seven years.
JOANN: Okay, ready?
And push out.
JOANN: I always say everyone plies, they just do it in their own way.
And that was the whole point of doing a class with just physically challenged children.
I didn't want it to be just another program where they sat in a wheelchair and danced in a wheelchair.
I wanted everyone who could get up to get up, everyone to do the best and the most that they could.
- And wave!
And... hit the ground!
JOANN: The beginning of the year is seeing what they can do, figuring out how I can put them together.
- And jump!
JOANN: And then around November, I start getting the dancers ready for the show.
- All right, boys!
Boys... MORGAN: Joann had called me one night and she was just, like, "Okay, Morgan, I have this perfect person for you, "and I think you two will make such a great couple."
I'm just, like, "Okay, who?
"You're getting Jake."
I'm, like, "Oh, my gosh, this is gonna be so much fun."
- Where should I put it?
MORGAN: You really get to know who they are and how they feel about everything on a real deep level.
JOANN: It's really important, helpers, that you're here every week, so... VERONICA: These are my helpers-- they're awesome, too.
They help me stand up, keep me from slipping, which happens a lot.
(others laughing) WOMAN: From her armpit... - I'm standing.
It is a miracle.
SHIRLEY: I get a bit worried sometimes.
I get, like, scared if I'm holding her too hard, or, like, hurting her, but it's really fun.
- Which you don't.
- (laughing): Okay, that's good.
JOANNA: Since we have gentlemen in this class, ladies, you're very lucky this year, because you're going to have partners.
(kids clamoring) Okay?
Everybody's going to dance, and the gentlemen are going to go up to each lady and dance with the lady.
- Oh, no!
(people laughing) - And turn.
- Will you do it for me?
Pretty, pretty please?
We're gonna do it.
We're gonna do it.
We're gonna do it.
SHI'ANN: Do you see her monkey dance?
See her monkey dance.
Do the monkey with her, do the...
I'm telling you, do the monkey with her.
Come on, do it, just go for it.
JOANN: A lot of times, the helpers start with their dancer when the helper's 13, and then the helper will stay with that dancer all through high school, so they really do form a nice bond.
- What you taught her!
(rock music playing in background) All right, helpers who have been here, did Shi'Ann teach her for the last...?
SHI'ANN: I've been with her since my freshman year.
This program definitely helps kids to feel like they're normal.
They don't have to feel different when they come here.
They can just be themselves, and that's why I love it here.
- You can see that they enjoy the-- to do that.
(both laughing) - (laughing): Don't call the helpers crazy.
- No, I mean-- no, no, I'm not calling them crazy.
I just say that it's crazy that they doing like with that passion, because you can see that.
They take care with every chil-- every kid, and, you know... That's good, like, that's amazing.
- Do you need me?
- Do I need you?
- To sub for anybody?
- Oh, yes, we have many people for you to sub for today.
- That's why, that's why I come.
- Well, thank goodness that we have you.
Who should we make you today?
Why don't you be Nicole Marrish today?
- Does she have a lot of... A lot of running parts?
'Cause I wanna... - You wanna run?
Yes, she does, she runs.
She's-- yep, she's up on her feet.
That's why I put you-- that's why I put you there.
- What about my sister?
- And your sister can be... She might... Um, we'll see.
- Allison wants to do homework.
- Oh, send her off to do...
Does she need an agent?
- I don't know.
Ali seems pretty competent to me, I don't know that... ALLISON: My sister thinks I joined Dancing Dreams just for her.
(laughs) But I actually like helping other people a lot, too.
It makes me happy that I'm making them happy.
Push down on your foot.
CAITLIN: How about I step on it?
- Yeah, that would be nice.
- You don't know how these go.
- I'm trying, Cait.
KARA: The girls, although they look a lot alike, they are total opposites.
STEVE: Caitlin is our girly girl.
Makeup, dresses, heels.
- Drama, yes.
And Allison is our tomboy.
- Almost-- okay, got it.
That took hours.
- No, it took, like, five minutes, but... CAITLIN: I like doing things with my sister, with normal kids.
I don't like doing things... with kids that don't talk or don't... do anything, 'cause they can't.
♪ LAURA: Come on, this way.
♪ ALEXANDRIA: Today is the last day of October.
You know what we call trick-or-treaters?
LAURA: That's what we call trick-or-treaters?
ALEXANDRIA: And they knock on the door and we answer them.
LAURA: And what do we tell them?
- ♪ Trick or treat, give me something good to eat ♪ LAURA: No, that's what they have to say.
Did you have a party today?
LAURA: And what happened?
- Got sugar again.
LAURA (laughing): You got sugar again.
So what else did you have to eat at your party?
- Nothing else.
LAURA: Nothing else, besides chips and sugar?
Want me to hold your hat?
- Thank you, yeah.
They called somebody else a winner.
- The little girl from, from K-1-19.
LAURA: Why was she a winner?
ALEXANDRIA: I don't know.
'Cause she had the best hat.
I wanted to be the winner.
LAURA: Aw, but yours was very, very nice and you helped me make it, right?
- But I wanted to be the winner.
Yeah, but sometimes, we have to share-- ALEXANDRIA: But I want to win always.
- So you try to... ALEXANDRIA: But I want to win, always, always, always!
Well, you can try.
- No, I cannot!
LAURA: Well, if you... - I always want to be the winner.
I don't want to lose.
Sometimes I win and sometimes I win.
And that's the last word?
ALEXANDRIA: I want to win.
- Okay, you want to win.
It's, "Me, me," and, "I wanna do this."
She's very competitive, very.
So I had one therapist telling me that she might not walk, and then I had another one telling me that a strong will, like, how-- that will make her do so much more than what her challenge was gonna be.
We're not there with surgery.
Maybe we're in denial.
We're still in denial, because it takes a, a long time to accept the fact that there is something different.
(voice trembling): Because it's not wrong, but just different.
(exhales) - ♪ Oh where should we go?
♪ Oh ♪ I want to climb and slip and slide ♪ JAKE: I have all these disabilities, so some people make fun of me.
Some of my friends, even though they're my friends, sometimes they make fun of me.
When I don't have any of the gadgets on, they're kind, but when I have the gadgets on...
- Attack him!
- Grab, you guys!
(children clamoring) NATALIE: With the other children, the walker is starting to get into his way.
- Eric, wait!
Eric, wait up!
NATALIE: As far as bullying and all that, just recently, there was an incident at school.
He was in gym and they were having a race, and he came in last.
And one of his own friends said, "Jake, you're an idiot for not winning, "and you shouldn't really be running in this race, 'cause you're not very good at it."
So that did have an effect on him, and, you know, he cried while he told me the story.
He's tired of everyone telling him what to do.
He's tired of the therapies.
He's tired of wearing his braces.
He just wants to be like everybody else.
And his goal for the third grade is not to use a walker at all.
WOMAN: Go ahead.
You got your foot in?
NATALIE: Yep, there you go.
There you go, we got your tush.
NATALIE: The most trying things with Jake, it's his will.
He has a very strong will, which is great, and I think he's gonna need it later on in life.
(Jake yells) JAKE: I feel like I'm a baby right now.
Just be careful, Jake, of that entrance over there.
NATALIE: Being a single parent, I feel like a police officer, and I just don't want to feel like that, but I have to do it.
The more he does now, the better off he'll be later on in life, and there are some days where I just-- I just wanna be Mom.
- Tell me that you won't go up the slide anymore.
NATALIE: You gotta be careful with these young kids.
You know what?
I don't think this is such a good idea.
- Jake, come down.
- Shh... come down.
You wanna go on the swings?
- All right.
- Hey, Ro!
Look who's here!
I'll show you around.
Show us around.
NATALIE: You wanna show Roman around?
JAKE: Guys, there's someone named Roman here.
Roman's very gentle and very sweet, so please don't knock him down.
He will cry if you do.
And over here is a very fun artifact.
You can climb up here.
- I like to climb.
- You can-- but you need something more safer, like this.
BOY: Yeah, like, like that.
Roman can climb up!
- That took a lot of practice.
JAKE: Here, I can do it, wait.
Jake, this is why I want you to wear a helmet.
- No, I'm okay.
JAKE: Everyone at my school doesn't wear a helmet.
And I just feel like I'm out of the fun when I wear the helmet at gym or outside.
I just want to be a normal kid.
That's my lifetime goal.
♪ - Cait, come on!
I'm gonna show her how fast I can go.
ALLISON: Personality-wise, she is really stubborn, and sort of hot-headed.
- Crosswalk, Cait.
Stop at the crosswalk.
(Caitlin grunts) - Cait, come on!
(barking) ALLISON: When people are just passing her in the hallway-- not just the students, the teachers, too-- they sort of talk down to her, and I don't like that, because with physical disabilities, like, their brain isn't affected really at all.
And they don't see that, so they think that they don't understand them or that they're, like, dumb or something.
(Caitlin talking quietly) KARA: You have a cell project?
- Math test tomorrow.
My teacher only gave me, like, a day's notice.
KARA: What's this?
Doesn't she know you cannot see this?
This is ridiculous-- like, look how small it is.
There... but... She's always made things better for you, right?
CAITLIN: No, I even told her.
KARA: You told her?
- Yes, and she hasn't done a thing.
- She hasn't done a thing, okay.
Steve, are you on-- is he on his call?
STEVE: No, I'll be right down.
- Can you believe that?
- This is Caitlin's homework?
But that's the same teacher she had last year, so she should know.
And Caitlin said...
So I want a copy of that, because we're gonna bring that to a meeting tomorrow.
It's not so good.
- Okay, I'll copy that.
Can you go sit next to your sister?
KARA: Okay, let's do math.
ALLISON: Sometimes I help her with her homework or help her get downstairs or something.
If my parents ask, I'll do it, but normally they don't ask, and I'll just help her by myself.
Okay, you do 57 divided by 7.
Is it bigger or smaller than one half?
Yeah, that one.
- Mommy, you didn't look through our lunch boxes.
- Yes, she did.
KARA: Yes, I did.
- Well, I did mine.
Kara: Hey, Allison did hers, can you believe it?
- I do it sometimes, um... - Lazy.
- I'm not lazy, come on, Cait.
ALLISON: She thinks she's the adult 'cause she's older by 30 seconds.
She thinks that that counts, so she bosses me around, and of course I don't let her, but she does it anyway.
♪ JOANN: Everyone, listen up.
We have a special guest today joining us, and Caity is going to introduce our special guest.
CAITLIN: There is a special guest with us today.
Her name is Jenifer Ringer, and she is a professional dancer for the New York City Ballet.
So please join me in welcoming Jenifer to Dancing Dreams.
(crowd applauds) - Thank you, Caitlin, oh... JENIFER: So you're a bird in the sky, and you're having to turn to avoid the trees.
You're going through the trees right now.
(gentle piano music playing in background) Good, now bring one arm up.
And you put your head into your wing and you put the other one across.
Now you can do the crying swan, where you cry.
That means you're-- show the tears on your face.
And show the tears.
And now you're a swan that found love, so you're a happy swan.
(chuckles) And up and over... And open.
And let's do one arm.
Wash your face.
And wash. And up.
And wash. And up.
And wash. And curtsy.
Very nice, ladies, beautiful swans, very beautiful swans, good.
(chuckles) What's the piece about?
It doesn't really have a story.
A lot of the ballets that George Balanchine choreographed didn't really have a story.
It was just about beautiful dancing.
And a lot of times, he would just take whatever happened in the studio and create something beautiful out of it.
In this ballet, twice, girls fall on stage, but they're intended to fall on stage, but the story is, is that in rehearsal, a girl fell down while everybody else was doing a step, and he said, "Oh, perfect, let's keep it."
So... and it's not a comedy.
She actually falls down in a beautiful way, and then he made something out of it that became a piece of art.
VERONICA: Did you ever, like, fall or embarrass yourself?
- Oh, yeah, I've fallen many times.
I've come out on the wrong music, and had to, like, dodge through people.
I've forgotten the steps completely in front of an audience.
And so, yes, I've had many mishaps.
VERONICA: Do you ever still think about the critic?
- (chuckling) You know, there was a... For those of you that don't know, there was a-- a dance critic that said something bad about my body shape and, uh, Veronica was one of the people that wrote a letter, right?
Some of the girls here got really angry, defended me.
I don't really think about him that much.
You know, it's just like in life.
You know, whenever anybody says anything bad about you, you really just have to forget it and know that it's, that it's an opinion that... you-- you don't have to give any power to.
Did he ever apologize?
But you know, it's, it's, you know...
Critics, that's what they do, their, their... Their job is to write things about, um... And to criticize and... Their job is to criticize dance, not body image.
(laughing) You should go on television!
(laughs) GIRL: Whenever someone criticizes you, it means that they're jealous of you.
JOANN: And how do you girls feel, I mean, when people don't know you and they... and they talk about your...
You can talk about that, go ahead.
They don't say it to my face, and that's the worst part, 'cause you're trying to be nice to people, and, like, they're not nice to you.
What I love about that is, I always prove them wrong, every single time.
In your face!
(all laughing) ♪ LAURA: Hi.
- How are you?
LAURA: Good, thank you very much.
LAURA: For her benefit, I've tried everything.
Whatever they recommend, if we feel that it's gonna help her, we just do it.
RACHELLE: So what are we playing today?
Do you wanna do the find-- the collect the coins?
LAURA: We're doing everything that's not surgery.
We're doing the serial casting.
We're doing the Botox.
We're doing stretching-- a lot of stretching.
Physical therapy, which she gets five times a week.
RACHELLE: And do you find her endurance is still getting better?
LAURA: I think that she is walking more.
RACHELLE: Are you flying?
Does anything hurt?
Are you okay?
How did you feel after last time?
Yesterday, she walked two blocks without complaining, after school.
RACHELLE: That's great, that's awesome.
So, you did a workout in the morning, you went to school all day, and then you walked?
I'm very impressed.
(machine whirring) ALEXANDRIA: It's hard.
RACHELLE: It's hard?
LAURA: This machine makes your child walk the proper way, and slowly, as time progresses, like, the therapists let the machine do less work and the child more work.
RACHELLE: Do you like going faster or slower?
(yelps): I need some help here.
LAURA: No, go ahead.
(Alexandra grunts) RACHELLE: Ah!
ALEXANDRIA: The Lokomat tells me how, how great I'm walking, so I can put my foot down.
(Alexandria grunts) RACHELLE: Harder!
You're doing it!
(Alexandria grunts) RACHELLE: Harder!
- (grunts): I'm trying!
LAURA: Almost a mile, I was very impressed.
Though she was assisted, I still think that that was a big accomplishment for her.
(people talking in background) ALEXANDRIA: I want to be a doctor.
I like how to fix people and make them better, and not be sick, to get the germs away.
MAYA: That's a very good example, but I want you to tell it with excitement, how you feel about it.
♪ (kids talking) BECKY: Sassy arms, sassy arms.
(all laughing) - Why do I hang out with you?
- Because we're fun.
- And we're amusing.
(all laughing) VERONICA: My friend Becky, when we first started hanging out, she was so nervous of doing something with me, and we became best friends.
It meant a lot, because it shows that she saw, she got to know me, and that she understood that my life is not the same as hers, but it's perfectly normal for me.
(Becky humming video game theme) - Ah, stop killing me!
- I don't know how to fly.
Stop it, no!
- Stop moving!
This is how I take out my violence on people that make me angry.
I can't do it in real life.
VERONICA: I've never taken a single step without someone behind me, but it's not hard, because it's all I've known.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
WOMAN: Good night, ladies!
ALL: Good night!
WOMAN: To turn off the lamp, clap, pause, clap.
BECKY: I got it!
VERONICA: She didn't put the bedrail on to keep me from falling out.
(talking in background) JAKE: I'm tired.
- I know, but just, you be my superstar, okay?
Reminder: three more classes, then we have the show.
Ladies, you are going to hide behind your scarves.
JOANN: I start in class just doing the rough sketch of the dances.
- Gentlemen, come in the front, over here.
JOANN: Choreography's finished by December, so we can start teaching it in January, because a lot of times what's in my mind, and I think will look good and work, doesn't necessarily work.
You're the handsome princes, Ro.
- You're the prince, okay?
- You're the prince of the castle.
Girl, ladies, like those princes.
JOANN: Week to week, I refine it, and we practice it in class.
- Look for the princesses.
Dmitri, look for the princess.
JOANN: Same time, I'm working on the costumes and putting those together.
Princes, look for them.
Princes, look down.
Look side to side.
All right, princes, march.
Princesses, turn and wave your scarf.
Okay, princes, bow.
JOANN: Choreographing for a show with children of varying physical abilities, it's a big challenge.
You want to make sure that everyone is shown to their best, that, that everybody is involved, and that everybody is special.
♪ LAURA: Alexandria and Maya are in separate classes this school year.
The separation has been very difficult for them, more for Alexandria than for Maya, and she's been saying that she hates school, and she has never said that.
She has always liked school, likes learning.
WOMAN: Ryan, can you hit three and four?
LAURA: She was getting used to having Maya around for support, as a friend, as everything.
I think she feels alone.
I want Alexandria to be independent.
She needs to be able to voice her needs without asking Maya to do it for her.
And I think that's what happened last year.
Like, she would tell Maya, "Tell the teacher," or they would come home, and Maya would have to tell me what was going on in class.
(children talking in background) LAURA: The most difficult part was going to lunch.
Maya said that Miss Jackie did not allow her to sit next to her sister.
She was not happy.
Maya takes that responsibility too seriously.
God forbid she couldn't open her juice.
(kids talking in background) LAURA: Maya said, "Do you love me?
Do you love me as much as you love Alexandria?"
And it's, like, "Uh, yes."
But these are, you know, her concerns, because, "Why are you doing so many things for her, and not for me?"
TEACHER: And what I'm going to teach you guys today is about self space.
Say it with me.
ALL: Self space.
TEACHER: The space that belongs to you.
LAURA: School should be Maya's time.
She shouldn't always have to be next to her sister.
Just the circumstance, that we put the pressure on her.
And sometimes I think she does, like, "Oh, I have to be brave because it's my sister, and she needs that."
She's too little, I think, to understand the whole scope of why we need to do certain things with Alexandria.
(children shouting playfully) LAURA: I'm hoping that all of this will make her stronger as she grows older and she understands and she looks back.
It'll make her a better person, that she understand other people with special needs.
(talking in background) NATALIE: Jakey, that basketball's way too high for you.
If the ball hits you, you're going to go flying, and you're not wearing a helmet.
I understand that, but, Jake, these are big boys here.
(Jake grumbling) Jake, Jake.
You can watch, but, Jake...
So, you know what I'm going to do?
I'm going to, I'm going to get you a basketball.
- You won't let me do it.
- Yes, I'll let you do it, but not with these kids, because if they...
If they throw it to you and... - You don't let me do anything.
Jake, you're going to get hurt if they're, they're playing... - You don't care about me.
- Listen, listen.
Come sit down, and I'm going to ask them if we could borrow their ball.
- I don't... (grumbling) - Okay, come over here.
There's a seven-year-old playing this.
You don't care, do you?
- Okay, so... - Yeah?
So when they're done, we'll ask them to borrow the ball, and then you can... Jakey, it's dangerous.
You could hurt yourself.
(Jake grumbles) JAKE: You don't let me do anything!
- That's not true, Jakey, you do a lot of things.
- You don't let me play basketball.
You don't want... you don't want me to play... - I will let you play basketball, but not now, Jake.
NATALIE: It's just one slight touch or someone distracting him.
If someone calls his name, and he turns, he could lose his balance and he could really hurt himself.
He just has so many other issues, for him, it would... really be awful.
- So he's grabbing the stick.
If he's walking and he trips, it's going to go through his eye.
WOMAN: Well, he's frustrated right now.
- Yes, I can see that.
- Wow, that is a big... - I know, that's not... That's going to end up... - Yeah, let's... - This is not a good... Jake, you're going to end up hitting yourself.
(Jake grumbling) NATALIE: Come here, let's go ask them if they can, if you can play basketball-- come.
Let's go ask, come.
- If I can with them, then I'll be so happy.
- I know, so we'll ask them if, if you could shoot, like, one or two hoops, okay?
WOMAN: I asked the dad over there if we can borrow a basketball and just play over here.
NATALIE: Oh, and what'd he say?
- He said we could borrow the basketball.
- Okay, there you go.
That's a great idea, okay.
Okay, thank you.
- Roman, do you want to play?
- Hold on, let me just... (Jake grumbling) NATALIE: You're saying it's no fun to play with Mom?
I bet you I can make it super-difficult.
(Jake groans) NATALIE: Uh-huh, okay, here we go-- oh!
You stole it from me.
(both laughing) NATALIE: You know, you've gotten really good at dribbling.
Oh, you passed it to me.
Thank you, Jake-- oops.
Let's see... - So I passed it to you.
- You did, that was a good pass.
Can we do it again?
- Come on, make it tough for me.
This is not a challenge.
- It's not a challenge for you?
- It's easy... - Okay, go, go ahead.
You want try to... Did you play at school?
- Really, with who?
- Um, Miss Katz.
- Ah, we'll have to tell Miss Katz.
Oh, almost had it.
- Try, Mom.
You'll never make it.
- Is that a challenge?
- All right, let's see.
- Challenge accepted.
- Oh, Mom's horrible at this.
Are you excited for the ski trip coming up?
- Two days of skiing?
Why don't you make it three?
- Next year, maybe-- we'll see.
STEVE: We had wheeled her out onto the snow in her wheelchair, and everybody's looking at us like we're a little bit crazy.
And she went up the magic carpet and skied down, yelling, "Faster!"
That was her first ski run.
♪ WOMAN: Okay, everybody look at me and say, "Snow dance!"
ALL: Snow dance!
(talking in background) - Hello.
Just a picture of you guys like that.
ALEXANDRIA: I wear my helmet so no snow can come inside my eyes.
The blue helmet, so I can ski better.
INSTRUCTOR: Get ready, hands on the knees.
♪ (instructor exclaiming) KARA: Two, one, stand up!
STEVE: Got to turn.
ALLISON: We got into skiing when we were five years old, I think.
Right when we were old enough to ski, my aunt, 'cause she's a ski instructor, she's, like, "Bring them up to Okemo," and she'll get us into lessons and everything, and we'll learn how to ski.
So, it all started from there, and I've loved it, like, ever since then.
STEVE: You got to stand up.
KARA: Stand up.
STEVE: There you go.
ALLISON: Up, up, up.
- Mommy, I don't want to stop.
STEVE: Okay, she's going.
We'll see you at the lifts.
Left turn, kiddo.
KARA: The skiing turns out to be really great therapy for her, because she's forced to be on her legs and use her muscles.
And we did it mostly because it's the one thing that we could all do as a family.
♪ STEVE: Left.
Big right turn, big right turn.
KARA: All the way to the tree.
STEVE: Reach right, reach right, reach right.
KARA: Keep going, keep going.
STEVE: Stand tall and reach right.
KARA: Keep it turning, keep it turning.
STEVE: Right turn.
Look right, look right, look right.
KARA: Are you laughing?
ALLISON: Yeah, she's got a big goofy grin on.
STEVE: Don't just give up.
When you're, when you feel like your skis are getting caught, just adjust your balance and keep going, okay?
Look up, please.
CAITLIN: How would I do that, though?
- Because you're a skier.
(Caitlin gasps) KARA: I just didn't want her to keep losing her balance... ALLISON: Standing up tall, she wants to see your pretty face.
STEVE: Okay, there's powdery snow.
KARA: Outrigger's over her ski.
STEVE: Fix your outriggers.
KARA: There you go.
Nice job fixing it, Caitlin.
STEVE: Big right turn.
Right, look right and ski right.
Look right... STEVE: Caitlin's goal is to eventually ski independently.
It's a very challenging goal to have.
It's going to take a lot of work, but I think someday she will actually do it.
- Good balance.
♪ Because you know I'm all about that bass ♪ ♪ 'Bout that bass, no treble ♪ I'm all about that bass, 'bout that bass, hey ♪ ♪ I'm bringin' booty back ♪ Go ahead and tell them skinny (bleep) that ♪ ♪ No, I'm just playing, I know you think you're fat ♪ KATHLEEN: This kid comes over and he's, like, "Excuse me, I got a question for you.
Did you break yourself?"
BECKY: Break yourself?
BECKY: What'd you say?
- I was, like, "Well, no.
I'm just not strong enough to walk."
And he's just, like, "Oh, okay."
I'd rather tell them so they're not asking the same weird question when they're 40.
♪ No stick figure silicone Barbie doll ♪ It's so exciting!
♪ So, if that's what you're into ♪ ♪ Then go ahead and move along ♪ ♪ Because you know I'm all about that bass... ♪ VERONICA: I want you to talk about it.
I want disability to become an open topic, not taboo.
Not be something so terrible.
♪ I'm all about that bass ♪ 'Bout that bass, no treble ♪ Said I'm all about that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble ♪ ♪ I'm all about that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble ♪ ♪ Said I'm all about that bass, 'bout that bass.
♪ - He's unbelievable.
JORDAN: Guys, that's how you get better, by practicing.
Well, I can't even shoot, which is bad.
- That's not true.
JORDAN: Because it's, because... - You shot in the park.
JORDAN: No, it's because you need to shoot on the right rim.
Don't shoot on a ten-feet rim.
you're too small for that.
NATALIE: Yeah, so go ahead, try to-- try... Not bad.
That time I did like 15 or 16, right?
NATALIE: That's pretty good, Jake.
- I've never done that high.
I've only done, like, up to 11.
So that means I broke the new record just now.
JORDAN: No, the record is, uh, like, 15,000.
No, but, for like, for me.
- Are, you guys are going to 7-Eleven?
- I can, I'm walking down there.
JORDAN: I'll go get my bookbag.
- Should we all walk together?
JORDAN: Yeah, you want to walk together?
JAKE: Yeah, sure.
NATALIE: Okay, all right.
♪ JOANN: Okay.
CAITLIN: Miss Joann?
- What's a ballroom dance shoe?
- What are ballroom dance shoes?
They're kind of like tap shoes with a little bit of a heel and not the tap.
- Where do you get them?
- Where do you get them?
At a dance shop.
- I want them.
- You want them?
Ever since we've been watching Dancing With the Stars, I have loved ballroom dancing and wanted, want to learn how to do it.
(talking in background) STEVE: Now remember, keep your feet straight.
Can you feel your heel sliding, 'cause you're not putting your foot flat?
There, that's good, now it's not moving.
Concentrate on your feet and show Miss Joann.
JOANN: Slowly, don't try to do two steps at once-- do a step... CAITLIN: I feel like the shoes are magic or something, because my knees go straight, my hip goes straight, everything goes straight when I wear those shoes.
Because I concentrate more on where my foot goes.
- Put your feet under you.
That's what they're there for, girly.
Foot forward, yes.
STEVE: Stand on, on the balls of your feet.
JOANN: Yeah, remember what I told you?
You have to push through your leg, through your heel, and push up.
That's it, there you go, use your thighs.
Well, that's nice.
Stand like that.
CAITLIN: I walk better in heels than regular shoes.
So I feel like... Cinderella.
♪ KATHLEEN: Okay.
VERONICA: Did I just hit something?
- It's just the couch, you're fine.
- I'm sorry.
I don't want to hit anything... else.
Nothing will break.
I drive into stuff all the time.
You go to Adelphi now, right, for your master's?
I do, I do, yes.
KATHLEEN: I graduated in May from the University of Illinois with a degree in community health.
I got to be in the dorm and live on the campus.
I'm not doing anything inspiring by getting out of my bed.
If anyone thinks that, they have a pretty patronizing view of our lives.
They call it inspiration porn, because they're so sick of being called inspirational for just basically living and practically breathing and leaving the house.
I want to be a TV correspondent.
Like, I don't want to be a news reporter.
Like, I want to get to interview people and go straight into Hollywood if I can.
Hopefully, I will.
- Like Barbara Walters.
- More like Ellen, because Ellen's... - Oh, like talk show.
- Fun and happy... Yeah, I... And not only does she interview a bunch of celebrities, which, of course, is what I want to do, but I also want to interview, like, regular people, like, you and me.
Yeah, that's cool.
You'd be good at that.
Well, I don't even know if I'm going to get it.
Hopefully I will.
KATHLEEN: It's a false assumption that we're all wishing we could be something or someone else, because it's not 100% flowers and sunshine all the time, but it's not 100% suffering, either.
And honestly, that sounds a lot like the nature of anybody's life, I think.
♪ JEFF SCOTT: You know what that is, right?
Oh, my God.
My head's about to explode.
(Jeff laughing) - So, Jake, I'm going to show you a secret, all right?
One thing you want to do when you're dribbling a basketball, you want to use your fingertips.
- So you want to use your fingertips.
And if you use your fingertips, you have a little better control.
- Instead of using the flat part of your hand.
- All right?
So try using your fingertips.
JAKE: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20... 22!
(all laughing) I got 22!
JEFF: So, this is Willie Reed.
WILLIE: Hey, how're you doing?
NATALIE: Hi, how are you?
Nice to meet you-- Natalie.
WILLIE: Nice to meet you.
JEFF: This is his first game.
- Your first Nets game?
- Never been to a game.
We're giving him the royal treatment.
WILLIE: Well, hey.
MAN: ♪ ...banner yet wave... JEFF: Uh-oh.
MAN: ♪ O'er the land... NATALIE: Wow!
Are you sure?
- Wow, thank you.
- I hope you enjoy them.
You got some big shoes to fill.
What do you say?
JAKE: Thank you.
- You're welcome.
You're welcome, I hope you enjoy the game.
NATALIE: Thank you.
JEFF: That's pretty awesome, right?
Wait till the kids hear about this at school tomorrow, right?
JAKE: Is this just a dream?
- It's a dream, right?
Thank you for making my dream come true.
WILLIE: Oh, you're welcome, thank you.
I hope you have fun today.
NATALIE: Thank you.
JAKE: I will.
WILLIE: Enjoy, scream loud for me.
♪ JOANN: Shh, okay.
This is our next-to-last class before the big show.
So let's go.
(music playing on speakers) (shoes tapping) LAURA: When she's at Dancing Dream, I feel that Alexandria feels that she's at the safest place ever, because she is with her true peers.
(music continues) It gives them the opportunity to show off their abilities.
She feels like, "Hey, I'm a dancer."
For her, this is the real deal.
INSTRUCTOR: You go like this, and then you can go... LAURA: Maya eventually is not going to be at Dancing Dreams.
She's, doesn't have those needs, those challenges.
So, she was tripping a lot before.
That's resolving itself.
- She loves to dance, so we try to figure out what we want to do about it, because probably we need to put her in a different school or something.
So I don't know if even that's going to...
I don't know.
I don't know what's going to happen.
- We don't know what issue's going to come about.
We don't want Alex to feel... RENE: So differently.
Because we have to do that eventually.
♪ If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
♪ Do it!
Yesterday, I was practicing my dance moves, and I could not kick at that time.
So, I was practicing my dance moves, you know, casual time, and... (foot stomps): I actually kicked.
And I was, like, "Whoa."
No, I don't want ice cream.
- You don't, but I want ice cream.
- Fine, then I'll get the candy first, then the ice cream.
You want candy, and Mommy wants ice cream.
- Okay, so ladies first.
- Ladies first, that's right.
Mmm, it smells good in here.
It smells like an ice cream sundae.
- 22 flavors.
- Tell the girl what you want.
- Um... wait.
Do you know what you would like?
I think that looks like a familiar face.
Is that Morgan?
- (laughing): Hi, Jakey.
- Oh, my gosh, hi, Morgan.
Can I get, like, a spoonful of vanilla?
And my mom would like to try the coconut.
Here you go.
NATALIE: What do you say?
MORGAN: You're welcome.
Come here, give me a big hug.
I'm going to miss you.
You better come visit me... MORGAN: I'm a senior.
This is my last year doing Dancing Dreams.
I'm definitely going to miss the closeness, that really one-to-one connection.
It's something that even in high school, I don't get that kind of intimacy with my teachers or, like, other peers, but that really... that good connection that you get that you're just so excited to see them once a week, and, like...
I'm just really going to miss seeing them.
("Let's Dance" by David Bowie playing) ♪ Ah ♪ Ah ♪ Ah ♪ WOMAN: It'll be a little rough on your skin.
♪ ALL: Roll it... ♪ Rock, paper, scissors, and shoot.
♪ Get it!
♪ Let's dance ♪ Put on your red shoes and dance the blues ♪ ♪ LAURA: The outfits that she makes and how she puts everything together, every child has her moment.
This is a show.
- Break a leg!
("Let's Dance" continues) ♪ Let's sway JOANN: Good afternoon.
I would like to welcome all of you to Superheroes: The Power Within.
(audience applauds and cheers) (original "Batman" theme music playing) (audience applauds) JAKE: My goal is to get the audience excited and whip up a lot of entertainment.
("Batman" continues) Even though I just got rid of the walker, like, a week ago, it just feels good to me, to focus who I really am.
("Batman" continues) (cheering) (cheering and applauding) ("Firework" by Katy Perry playing) ♪ You don't have to feel like a waste of space ♪ ♪ You're original, cannot be replaced ♪ ♪ If you only knew what the future holds ♪ ♪ After a hurricane comes a rainbow ♪ ♪ Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed ♪ ♪ So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road ♪ ♪ Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow ♪ ♪ And when it's time, you know ♪ ♪ You just got to ignite the light... ♪ CAITLIN: To get up on the stage and express the feelings, I want people to know that I can actually do anything, and do anything my heart desires.
♪ 'Cause baby, you're a firework ♪ ♪ Come on, show 'em what you're worth ♪ ♪ Make 'em go, "Oh, oh, oh" ♪ ♪ As you shoot across the sky (cheering) ♪ Baby, you're a firework ♪ Come on, let your colors burst ♪ ♪ Make 'em go, "Oh, oh, oh"... ♪ VERONICA: I may never learn to walk, I may never learn how to tie my shoes.
But hey, I've done without walking for 16 years.
I think I can do it for at least... 75, 80 more?
(applauding) ("Firework" concludes, audience applauds) ♪ - All my life has been an adventure so far.
ALLISON: I want to be an adaptive instructor like my dad, 'cause I think it's really cool.
JOANN: And now...
If I woke up and knew how to walk one day, that would be weird for me.
Then you knew something was off.
It takes five people at least to help me get ready.
No big deal.
You're like the rich and famous.
- Except we're not rich.
- Or famous.
(laughing) I hide them under my bed.
MAYA: She says, "Why are you kids hiding your braces?"
She says that, and she gets really mad at us.
JOANN: Run, run, run, run, run, run.
Stand on your head.
Run... JAKE: My goal-- my true goal-- is to be famous.
ALEXANDRIA: I dance at home when it's midnight.
(laughing) ♪ ♪ DEL TORO: Funding for America ReFramed is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Additional funding is provided by the Wyncote Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Reva and David Logan Foundation, and the Park Foundation.