Jack onstage in The Nutcracker (Peter Mueller, courtesy Cincinnati Ballet)
Some dance stories inspire you; some make you grin uncontrollably; some make you a little bit teary. The best do all three. And this is one of the best: Yesterday, 7-year-old Jack Barlow became the first child with Down syndrome to perform in Cincinnati Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.
For four years, Jack has been part of the wonderful Ballet Moves program, a collaboration between the Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Children's Hospital that addresses the needs of kids with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The program includes ballet classes tailored to those children, with a therapist on hand to customize each activity.
As reported by Fort Thomas Matters, Jack became so enthusiastic about ballet that his mom joked to the Cincinnati Ballet director of education about moving to Russia to further his dance training. The director's response? " 'Maybe he should be in The Nutcracker.' "
Fast-forward to last night, when Jack made his debut as Party Boy No. 1. "This is bigger than Jack being in The Nutcracker," his mom told Fort Thomas Matters. "It speaks volumes for inclusion. It speaks volumes for the confidence the Cincinnati Ballet has in people with disabilities. This is a culmination of so many wonderful factors.”
Get to know Jack a little better via WCPO Cincinnati's report, below. Those of you in the Cincinnati area can see Jack onstage with Cincinnati Ballet again at 2 pm this Saturday, December 17. That is, if you can get a seat—we have a feeling it'll be a very, very hot ticket.