Hometown Hero: Shannon Wrights of OKC
Oklahoma City dance studio gets students of all abilities on the beat together
Shannon Wrights, who is legally blind, had a passion for dance from an early age.
Now, she shares that passion at her studio, Aspiring Attitudes, where the thrum of upbeat music and the rhythmic clack of tap shoes sets the mood.
It’s the sound of people of all abilities dancing side-by-side.
“I grew up not being able to do a lot of things,” Wrights says. “People told me I couldn’t because of my visual impairment. But even as a kid, I was a fighter, so I said ‘So what?’ ”
After graduating from Oklahoma City University with a dance management degree, she volunteered at local schools to combine her compassion for those with special needs with her passion for movement. When she had her own children, she started teaching dance at a home-school co-op. Then she got a phone call from a mother of a 4-year-old with cerebral palsy.
Other dance studios wouldn’t accommodate the child. Wrights said yes.
The list of private clients grew, and Wrights opened a home dance studio to teach all students. Now, Aspiring Attitudes operates in a free-standing space where Wrights and two other instructors teach 75 students everything from tap and jazz to ballet and cheer.
It’s no wonder students ages 2 to 50 flock to the studio.
“The special-needs kids are open hearted. They’re encouraging with hugs, smiles, and over-the-top support,” Wrights says. “The typical kids learn all those wonderful things. They also learn not to be afraid to try things. There are kids that are just barely walking through a routine and there are kids accomplishing the highest skill level. They’re all doing it together.”