The Oklahoma City Ballet is expanding its performances this year with a special sensory performance of The Nutcracker. OKC Ballet has partnered with Autism Oklahoma to ensure they create an inclusive performance and are accessible to any family who wishes to attend.
This one-night performance will have pre-recorded music instead of an orchestra, no pyrotechnics, the lights inside the room, and even a sensor-friendly room outside if the audience is overwhelmed.
“We’re really trying to make sure we’re bringing ballet to everyone — and making it accessible and inclusive,” said Stephanie Pitts of OKC Ballet.
The dancers, staff and even ushers have worked with Autism Oklahoma members to ensure they create a welcoming environment that is comfortable for anyone wishing to participate.
“The Nutcracker is something we do every year, it’s a magical holiday tradition for Oklahoma City,” Pitts said.
Pitts said they wanted to offer a more inclusive performance this year along with their iconic Nutcracker performances.
“We came up with a sensory-friendly performance,” Pitts said.
Pitts said they spoke to Autism Oklahoma to put the modified performance together.
“Pre-recorded music so we can adjust the volume if they want to bring an iPad or headphones is perfectly acceptable,” Pitts said.
“So to go to a performance, to be in the art of seeing these beautiful dancers, because they’re going to turn the lights on a little bit, there’s not going to be an orchestra, so there’s no sudden noise from the orchestra,” Crystal said Frost with Autism Oklahoma.
Crystal Frost, with Autism Oklahoma, says families they work with can’t always attend the ballet or other performances.
“People on the spectrum sometimes have a really hard time with their senses, with sight and sound and smell, so this performance just allows our families to have another great event in the Oklahoma community to enjoy,” Frost said.
Frost and her son have been working with the dancers over the past few months to ensure they know what to expect when they take the stage.
“Because the dancers also hear things in the audience that they wouldn’t normally hear if one of our kids or adults gets up and walks around or claps their hands when they’re not supposed to,” Frost said.
The OKC Ballet performs The Nutcracker December 10-18, and the sensual-friendly performance takes place on December 15 at 6 p.m