Magpie Dance is the UK’s leading dance charity for people with learning disabilities. We believe that a learning disability should not be a barrier to personal and artistic success. Through dance, our participants gain life, social and communication skills with added health and wellbeing benefits.
A world where a learning disability is no barrier to personal and artistic success in dance.
To enable people with learning disabilities to reach their full personal, social and artistic potential through dance.
Our people come first
We work together. We listen, share and encourage ideas, support and respect individuals. We focus on ability, not disability.
We strive for excellence
We create high quality artistic experiences and professional practice.
Our priority is accessibility and increased participation
We strive to ensure safe, physical access to activities and venues. Our commitment is to increase participation of people with learning disabilities within the cultural sector.
We challenge perceptions
We change perceptions of what people with learning disabilities can achieve. We challenge participants to fulfil their potential and we challenge those they interact with to believe in their ability.
We run inclusive dance sessions for children and adults with learning disabilities. Our collaborations with exciting artists and live musicians enrich this experience.
We deliver professional training for education, dance, health and business clients nationally.
We work in partnership with the NHS to provide in-patient work for clients with dementia and a range of complex learning disabilities.
At its heart, Magpie Dance supports people with learning disabilities to gain significant life, social and communication skills with measurable health and wellbeing benefits and to take part in the life of the community through dance.
Since our beginning, the aim was for dancers to have as many opportunities as possible to perform and collaborate with different companies and artists. Founded in 1985 by Avril Hitman BEM our values and approach were founded on the social model of disability – it is up to society to find a way of including people rather than excluding because of disability. This remains vital to Magpie Dance today, which has now grown from one 45-minute session per week, to enabling over 300 people to access regular dance activity sessions each year.
You can read Magpie Dance's latest Annual Review for April 2022 - March 2023.
Please email Laura Graham, Magpie Dance’s Executive Director, if you would like a copy of Magpie Dance’s Annual Accounts or our Policies and Procedures.
Magpie Dance regularly evaluates the impact of our work to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our dancers and their care networks. Dancers, facilitators, parents, carers and staff members provide us with valuable insights into our methods, projects and achievements.
We provide high quality contemporary dance experiences, supporting people with learning disabilities to develop dance skills, build their artistic voice and meaningfully engage in mainstream public, arts and professional communities through a lifelong engagement with dance. You can read our Quality Framework which underpins our programme of work.
“… Magpie Dance was her sanctuary… where she felt safe, among friends who cared about her and supported her, with teachers and support staff she knew she could trust and rely upon. As well as the dance classes she loves, it allowed her to escape from all her worries.” – Parent
Communication, confidence, health and wellbeing, positive social interactions, confidence and gaining skills.
Don’t just take it from us, here’s what our dancers say:
For an inside look into the peer mentoring programme:
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We are very grateful to all our volunteers who have supported and continue to support Magpie Dance participants on classes, projects, performances, and everything in between.