CINCINNATI -- Tracey Burgoon will tell you that she gets more from dancers who participate in her Wonders on Wheels program at Sayler Park’s Revere Dance Studio than she gives as a teacher.
Perhaps it’s true, but a video of her wheelchair dance students alongside their "shadow" counterparts shows that they feel just as lucky.
“They’re just great,” Burgoon said. “I’m blessed to have them as part of my life.”
A video of the group dancing to “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion while participating at a dance competition at Seton High School has been viewed more than 1.4 million times on Facebook and shared more than 38,000 times.
“My reaction is, we’ve been doing it for several years and posted videos,” she said. “For some reason, this one has just resonated with a lot of people.”
After watching the video, it’s surprising other clips hadn’t touched the hearts of so many much earlier. Wonders on Wheels is one of two special needs programs Burgoon offers at her studio.
The performance of “My Heart Will Go On” is a tribute to a dancer who passed away earlier this year.
“We unexpectedly lost one of our dancers back in September -- it was actually the week we were starting back up, we were going to start back up the week she passed away,” Burgoon said.
The student’s mother had written Burgoon an email, saying her daughter was excited to get back to dance before her death.
“Her favorite singer was Celine Dion, she loved ballet, so we decided to make this song a tribute to her,” Burgoon explained.
In the video, the dancers in wheelchairs are wearing white, and their "shadows" are in black. The "shadows" help the other dancers perform, and Burgoon said that she has a waiting list of dancers who want to partake in this part of the program.
“They help them maneuver when they can’t move their arms,” she explained. “We just really try to work with them. It’s just as important for the ‘shadow’ to work with the girls.”
Burgoon started teaching the Wonders on Wheels classes after a friend of hers who was teaching wheelchair dance classes couldn’t do it anymore. At first, it was only open to those with Spina bifida, but now all students in wheelchairs can participate.
Dancers on the team range from ages 6 to 27.
Revere Dance Studio also offers a series of classes for children on the autism spectrum.