Do you watch Strictly (. . . Come Dancing)? I am not an avid viewer but find it good entertainment when I do. I was watching a couple of weeks ago when Strictly pros teamed up with Candoco Dance Company to perform a contemporary piece of dance theatre to David Bowie’s (my musical hero) ‘Life on Mars’. They couldn’t have chosen a better track to perform one of the most extraordinarily moving dances I have ever seen. It was stunning and just so powerful – see for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8LkktRbr_E!
Candoco Dance Company, founded in 1991, is the contemporary dance company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. They have had some very high profile gigs including the Bird’s Nest in Beijing to the Olympic Stadium in London; performing at the handover ceremonies in 2008 and returning, alongside Coldplay, at the Paralympic Closing in 2012. We have our very own wheelchair performing group here in Devon – Wheelfever Projects, who are going from strength to strength.
Wheelfever Projects is a Community Dance Project devising and delivering creative dance experiences. It’s core conviction is that dance is an activity that benefits the health and well-being of those who participate. They think creatively and inclusively to provide opportunities for people who may otherwise struggle with traditional dance forms and mainstream methods of teaching.
This project has reached 90 disabled children and young people through Performances and workshops and is giving a new generation of disabled young people the chance to belong to and enjoy the benefits of being part of a dance group; developing their social confidence and counteracting feelings of isolation.
Like many of the projects supported by DCF everyone benefits from being involved. This project has developed the confidence and skills of our older dancers through their leading of workshops and performances. Their involvement with the younger dancers as role models has made a positive difference to how the younger children see themselves – everyone’s aspirations have been raised.
Families of disabled children are acutely aware of the barriers their children face concerning employment. Often, they learn to accept this as an outcome and settle with the hope of being kept occupied. Wheelfever encourage them to hope for more than just filling their time with something to do – this project demonstrates they have a lot to give, they just need opportunity.
One young person has become a star performer. He started with Wheelfever 8 years ago and becoming a performer has always been his dream. This project has given him the opportunity to live this dream and he has gone on to use his skills to help others by becoming a workshop leader.
He has grown from a young boy who started off only being able to think about himself and wanting to be the only one performing, into a young man who is still an amazing solo performer but also able to work as part of a team and this project has now given him the skills and confidence to lead a team, which he now proudly announces as “my work”. Who knows perhaps we will see our star and/or others from Wheelfever performing on national television in the future. In the meantime keep an eye on their website for performances in Devon: http://wheelfeverprojects.co.uk/
by Nicola Hobson – DCF Ambassador