We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Kalaher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Out Loud Dance was formed with the desire to provide a place where students with and without disabilities could create, collaborate and share in the joy of movement. After several years of teaching dance and arts integration classes for different elementary and high schools I began teaching a class at the university level for post secondary students with disabilities. The course focused on nonverbal communication and personal and shared space in various settings. With the belief that movement is a natural form of communication we explored the subject matter through a creative movement lens. Around the same time I had three year old twin daughters starting their first dance class. I loved watching them dance together but realized they might not be able to if one had a disability that prohibited her from dancing in a traditional studio. I decided to create a nonprofit organization that offered after school dance classes for children with and without disabilities. We have several sets of siblings that come to dance together and our volunteers make it possible for us to have students of various ages and ability levels in one class. We have also started an in-school program that integrates movement into the core curriculum for elementary students.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The one thing I get so much joy from is watching my students create something that makes them proud. Our classes are very process rather than product driven. I want students to feel proud to show off the final product but how we get there is most important. I love watching them work together in groups, overcome challenges of collaboration and differences of opinion and then creating and sharing something that is unique and interesting and new. We layer art projects and various types of music into our movement classes that often include them expressing something about themselves. I love watching it all come together and seeing individual personalities expressed in a group collaboration.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
There is so much to do in Houston! We love going to Minute Maid for an Astros game and seeing live music at White Oak Music Hall. We have amazing shows come to the Hobby Center. Some of my favorite places to eat are State Fare for brunch, Karbach Brewing Co for the afternoon in the The Biergarten, the back patio at Brenner’s on I10 and crawfish at BB’s. My favorite place for a nice dinner is BCN.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m not sure any of this would have been created without my friend and colleague Dr. Meagan Orsag. We first met as high school teachers almost 15 years ago. Several years later after graduate school and several moves we were living close to one another again and she was working for the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University. She asked if I would be interested in developing a movement course for their program. It has been such a wonderful experience and is the reason I wanted to continue creating classes for younger students with disabilities. Meagan is now the Associate Director for the CDD and a board member of Out Loud Dance.