Ballet Has Beautiful Benefits

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A new class called “Ballet for Recuperation” is in the third Sunday of its six-week long run at the Berest Dance Studio on 12 South Washington St. in Port Washington.
The free class is the inspiration of one local young woman, Grace Horn Hanford, a 16-year-old Manhasset resident and high school junior student at Lutheran High School. After becoming inspired by a mentor and friend, Hanford pulled together the reigns to offer a special class for women that have survived cancer.
The class is taught by Floryn Glass-Stock, a long time Berest faculty member. She is accompanied by Hanford, a Berest student.
The goal is to help women who have survived cancer use ballet movements to better deal with the peripheral neuropathy that ensues as a result.

Grace Hanford, a student of Berest Dance Studio of Port Washington, organized a special class for cancer survivors.
Grace Hanford, a student of Berest Dance Studio of Port Washington, organized a special class for cancer survivors.

“I was inspired by a story a friend shared with me about a ballet workshop and how it helped her pain,” said Hanford. “I wanted to make a class like that possible again and thought it would benefit others as well.”
More than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy exist, and each type comes with different symptoms. Peripheral neuropathy is when small sensory fibers transmit pain and temperature sensation. Besides cancer alone, studies have shown that peripheral neuropathy can also be caused by physical injury, systemic disease, autoimmune diseases, infections or even be inherited.
“Grace has always had a love of dance and ballet in particular,” said her mother Sabrina Horn. “It’s her sport, her passion and her outlet. It is wonderful to see how she is applying her passion for dance to such a uniquely meaningful and helpful activity in our community. It’s one thing to have an idea, and totally another to pull it off.
“We are obviously very proud of her, and thankful to Berest, and the Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer for their support,” said Horn.
“If these classes are successful in their objective, I hope to continue this workshop even longer,” said Hanford. “I think the longer the students partake in this experience, they can be less prone to having pains in their feet and legs.”
One of the dancers of the class, who wished to remain anonymous, shared this testament with local readers:
“I am an almost 10-year breast cancer survivor. Since completing the surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, I have struggled with a number of common treatment side effects. One difficulty has been around the grueling foot pain associated with neuropathy. Over the years, I have tried acupuncture, injectable iron, and injectable B12 (under medical supervision) and have been recommended a number of pain medications (which I declined). Finally a dear family friend and fellow survivor mentioned how she had stumbled upon ballet. To her amazement a few months into ballet her feet felt so much better. So I thought to myself, what could I possibly have to lose? So for the past eight months, I have been a secret ballet dancer. Every day, whether drying my hair or talking to colleagues, I do several ballet stretches for my feet. I am thrilled to report that the neuropathy is worlds better for me. I am delighted to be a part of this wonderful, healing collaboration.”
“I am so inspired by the ‘Ballet for Recuperation’ classes because of the positive outcomes these women will hopefully receive once they have finished this workshop,” said Hanford. “I plan to learn more about how I can help reduce the pain in people’s legs and feet, no matter what happened to them.”

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