We hope New Steps can be a place for your child to learn, grow, make new friends, SHINE & express themselves through the art of dance!

Sunshine Stars

Every child is a ray of sunshine in their own unique beautiful way


Does your special needs child love to dance?! New Steps Dance & Fitness Center provides a class called Sunshine Stars specifically tailored for students ages 4+ with Down Syndrome, Autism and other developmental disabilities.  This class will allow students to gain balance between the two halves of the body, express emotion, and gain muscle control, all while having fun and making new friends. 

Sunshine Stars is a great way for children to get involved in an extracurricular activity while improving motor skills, confidence, and socialization. Dance can be a unique and effective way to reach students with special needs because it is nonverbal. Through simple patterns, sequencing, and repetition, students will learn the basics of movement, rhythm, and dance in styles of Ballet, Jazz, Tap & Hip Hop. Some creative movement, storytelling, and hands on activities are incorporated into class too. If you are interested or have any questions, please feel free to reach out! We look forward to dancing with you!

We hope New Steps can be a place for your child to learn, grow, make new friends, SHINE & express themselves through the art of dance!



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Miss Shawna

Head Teacher for the Sunshine Stars

Miss Shawna graduated from the University of Hartford with her Bachelors of Arts degree, majoring in Elementary/Special Education. Currently Miss Shawna is a Special Education Teacher in a self-contained classroom.  Starting in the fall of 2018 she will be a behavioral therapist for an in home Applied Behavioral Therapist services. 

Miss Shawna has been with New Steps since she was three years old and has taught here for several years. In high school she was awarded New Steps Dancer of the Year and attended the New York City Dance Alliance Convention in Boston, where she received dance training from educators around the world.

In addition to dancing and teaching at New Steps, Miss Shawna has also danced at Anita Deprey Dance Studio & Performing Arts in East Hartford, where she competed for three years in ballet, modern and contemporary. She was also a part of Figments Youth Dance Ensemble, a unique pre-professional modern dance company for dancers ages 10-18, for three years. There, she expressed herself by creating and teaching her own original choreography.

Miss Shawna loves working closely with all children and believes dance is a true expression of oneself. Dance has been a passion of hers since she was a little girl and she takes pride in passing that down to her students. 



Miss Jill

Assistant Teacher for the Sunshine Stars

Miss Jill is an acquired brain injury survivor who has a passion for dance and teaching children.  Prior to her injury, Jill studied dance from the age of four through her sophmore year of high school.  She took classes in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop, performing in many recitals.  Miss Jill has acheived a remarkable recovery from her injury through determined hard work, a positive attitude and an indomitable spirit.  She loves people and has a contagious smile.  Jill volunteers several days a week as a teacher's assistant in Glastonbury's preschool program for special needs children.  She loves the kids and brings great joy and enthusiasm to these activities.  Miss Jill looks forward to using her skills working with the Sunshine Stars!


A Message from Miss Janelle...

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As any new business owner, I have so many new ideas I want to bring to New Steps.  One has been a dance class for children with special needs.  Dance for me growing up was my life.  It still is.  With dance I'm able to escape all the stresses of life.  I believe all children should have the opportunity to be able to participate in a dance class.  A dance class that is specifically designed and tailored to fit their needs so they too can move, and have a sense of release with the craziness of every day life.  With dance there is no right or wrong.  It's movement for the creative mind to let loose and let the body speak with out words.  Sunshine Stars is made possible with the expertise and talent from Miss Shawna and the many adult volunteers who have experience working with children with special needs as well as many current New Steps dancers who will be demonstrators within the class.  Lastly, a thank you to Miss Jill. I'm so excited to welcome Miss Jill to our Dance Faculty here at New Steps.  She is proof that with hard work, dedication and a positive attitude, anything is possible!  I hope the Sunshine Stars can be a fun positive experience for everyone involved.



Please email the studio to find out if your child quilifies for our Sunshine Star program and to register.