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Studio D at Segerstrom Center for the Arts paves the way for an inclusive future

Segerstrom Center’s Studio D: Arts School for All Abilities proudly marks its seventh year of providing an inclusive space for students of all abilities to engage in high quality dance, music and theater instruction. Studio D offers classes for children and adults with disabilities as well as those who are non-disabled, promoting confidence, imagination and overall well-being. Since its inception, Studio D has grown into an artistic haven, embodying its mission of encouraging self-expression and creative exploration, while celebrating the interests of each student.

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Photos courtesy of SCFTA

(L-R) Carly and Juliet celebrate dance at Studio D

They are inviting families to learn more about Studio D: Arts School for All Abilities at an open house on Saturday, Jan. 13 from 12 -2 p.m. This event offers an excellent opportunity for new and interested families to tour the studio, learn about the program offerings, meet the staff and register for Spring 2024 sessions. Those who are interested can RSVP by emailing

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Classes in dance and music are offered for all age groups

“Studio D was founded on the belief that the arts are for everyone,” said Chloe Saalsaa, manager of Studio D. “Our journey over the past seven years has been a testament to the transformative power of the arts and the incredible potential within everyone. Studio D has become a thriving community, and we look forward to continuing to provide a space where our students can express themselves and build lasting connections.”

Studio D, originally named the School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities, first opened its doors in February 2017, welcoming kids ages 4-13 with a six-week curriculum centered on recreational movement and music. Due to high community demand, the next three years saw Studio D’s expansion to include classes for ages 14-17 and 18-22 and extended its session duration to 15 weeks. In summer 2019, Studio D introduced musical theater classes which included a mentorship with students at Orange County School of the Arts and a culminating performance for friends and family.

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A student at Studio D

In July 2019, Studio D announced a number of off-site partnerships, including Easterseals OC, Unlimited Possibilities, CHOC, Santa Ana Unified School District, and many more, allowing the Center to bring dance and music classes directly to the communities served by these incredible organizations.

Unlimited Possibilities (formerly United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County) named the Center its 2019 Impact Award Recipient in recognition of the power of this program. In July 2019, the school was named the “Best Special Needs Camp/Activity” by Parenting OC magazine.

During the 2020-2021 school year, Studio D quickly pivoted to an online platform in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Studio D faculty created original on-demand video lessons covering dance, music and musical theater. The additional live Zoom classes enabled previous students to interact with their teachers from home, and attracted students from other states and counties who traditionally would not have been able to participate. In-person classes resumed in summer 2021.

Studio D has expanded class offerings to all adults, previously only available until age 22. The program now offers a wide range of artistic styles, including dance and music, musical theater and theater, as well as a ballet curriculum under development. Dance and music classes are offered for all age groups and promote creative choice making and mind-body connectivity. Musical theater classes are catered to ages 8+ and explore singing, dancing and acting with a focus on Broadway-style choreography and techniques. Theater courses are for ages 18+ and are supported by a Speech Language Pathologist, with the opportunity to learn various facets of the theater world.

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Dance Finale

Classes are held in the Center’s dance studios and are led by a three-person team, with two artistic teachers conducting the lessons and a therapist providing specialized support to students. The faculty is committed to adapting lessons to engage every student in the room, recognizing that everyone may participate and engage differently.

Avid supporter of the Center and Director of Orange County Arts & Disability, Marlena Barber shared, “While specialized instruction is important for students with disabilities, inclusive arts programming facilitates modes of communication and self-advocacy. Inclusive settings also foster empathy, confidence and a sense of belonging among typical peers. Orange County Arts & Disability applauds Segerstrom Center’s Studio D for their efforts to provide high-quality arts programming for artists of all abilities.”

Studio D aspires to further diversify its curriculum, providing students with an even broader range of artistic experiences. This vision includes expanding offsite programs through more collaboration with community partners and to increase broader access to the program by creating a digital Studio D library.

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