What is Highfliers?

In 2011, Magpie Dance commissioned Counterculture Partners to undertake a viability study into setting up a new performance company for dancers with learning disabilities. The study found that there was a distinct lack of progression and training pathways for these dancers. In 2014, Magpie Dance’s Highfliers became the first company of its kind. Highflier’s Director Jemima Hoadley has modelled the programme to capture the excitement and vigour of a dance training company.  The year long training company is fully funded, so that dancers can attend free of charge, accessing funding worth £8,500 per person for the year.

Seed investment for an initial two years from Esmée Fairnbairn Foundation enables Magpie Dance to start and run this ambitious new programme. Company classes are held at Rambert’s new building on the Southbank.


To provide a stimulating, challenging and specialised training environment in which dancers with learning disabilities can learn, contribute and thrive; developing their individual potential and achievement.


Highfliers values diversity within dance, the individuality of each dancer, curiosity, commitment, courage to try new things, embodied learning, expression, passion and energy for dance.


Through high quality training and performance opportunities, Highfliers takes gifted and talented dancers with learning disabilities to a new level of dance skills, enabling dancers to further access training and employment in the dance sector.

 What do Highfliers do?

TERM ONE: Successful Highfliers dancers will attend a full day of intensive training each week for ten weeks in a professional dance studio in Central London. Dancers will be taught contemporary dance technique, contact improvisation, dancer well being, improvisation, movement analysis and performance technique.  Guest teachers will deliver workshop seminars in dancer health.

TERM TWO: Dancers will continue training every week, plus work with a renowned UK choreographer to create a dance work to take on tour. Guest teachers will deliver workshops to support the choreographic process.

TERM THREE: Highfliers will continue technical training and rehearsals and will perform the new choreography in different venues.  The performance tour will include dance colleges venues both in and outside London, creating links to other training providers and companies. The progress of each dancer will be monitored over the year by the course leader and each term by an external assessor.  Each dancer will receive individualised feedback and support.

Click through to learn more about: Company BiographiesBooking


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