Inside Gillette Blog

Sophia and Mary Kate Dance — With Help from Ballet Studio, Gillette

Posted On: 04/04/2011

Categories: Patient Stories

Sophia Doebbert and Mary Kate Bigelow are friends who share more than a love of dance. Both girls have Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neuromuscular condition that causes progressive muscle weakness and limited physical movement. But thanks to adaptive ballet classes at Minneapolis dance studio Young Dance, these girls are developing their dance skills— and achieving an invaluable sense of independence. Using their power wheelchairs, the girls perform the pirouettes, bourrée turns and other movements of traditional ballerinas.

Sophia’s mom, Andrea Doebbert, points to Gillette and seating specialist Brian Reilly for giving Sophia and Mary Kate the ability to express themselves through physical movement — something otherwise not possible.   

“Brian’s expertise, patience, talent and hard work has given these little girls the ability to operate their powerchairs on a level so physically precise that they can perform complicated dance movements, spin on a dime, expertly navigate tight spaces and control a computer joystick,” says Andrea. “He is a ‘can-do’ person that has been an incredible asset to our life!”  

Click here to watch WCCO’s story, Mpls. Dance Co. Shows There Are No Boundaries in Ballet.