More than just a way to achieve her Girl Scout Gold Award, Aiken High School freshman Catherine Miller wanted to bring dancing and those with special needs together.

“I've been a dancer at the Burns Dance Studio since I was 3 years old,” Miller, 14, said. “I wanted to do something with dancing and kids with special needs, teaching them rhythm and movement. I think they are all great people. I know a couple from high school, and they are all very sweet and generous, and I'd love to work with them.”

Burns Dance Studio will host an open house and registration Oct. 18 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. located at 831 Neilson Street. Those interested in registering for classes can learn more about the program and meet those involved who will be assisting, including Miller. Classes will meet on Friday from Oct. 26 through Dec. 6, except during Thanksgiving break. The time of dance classes will be determined based on registration, however the Studio hopes to offer 30 to 40 minute classes and, if needed, run two classes.

“What we have is an opportunity for parents with kids who might not really think about calling up a dance studio,” Corey Burns, studio director, said. “We're trying to make an opportunity where that question is off the table.”

The classes, also in collaboration with TeachTown's emotional products for children with autism, are open to any family with a child who has special needs. The classes are designed to let the child be at the studio and feel uninhibited.

“The whole goal there is for kids with special needs to go into the studio and not have parents worry about is my child going to be too much of a burden,” Burns said. “They might even wind up on the stage at a recital.”

Miller said she hopes all the kids who participate feel as if they are a part of something and just feel normal.

“I want this to be an ongoing thing, and, hopefully, other things like karate would have their own special needs classes, too,” Miller said. “I hope it spreads out. I love the idea for this project, and I'm very excited to do it.”

For more information about the Burns Dance Studio, visit

For more information about TeachTown, visit

Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard and started with the paper in July. She has a degree in mass communications-journalism from the University of North Carolina Asheville.