Magpie Dance have been working with The National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) and Sadler’s Wells to create links between the organisations and to champion the opportunities and skills of young dancers with disabilities.
We have been in conversation with NYDC and Sadler’s Wells about a number of ways to partner and support each other’s work. One such conversation has been around their recruitment of dancers with disabilities. NYDC run experience workshops in venues around the country annually, to recruit for new dancers for the company. They encourage applications from dancers with disabilities and have discussed with us the many ways they ensure everyone’s needs are met. Considerations now include additional time in the space prior to starting the three hour workshop and extra time to learn movement phrases. There is also a teaching assistant in each workshop with specialist inclusive dance teaching skills, to support dancers who require adaptations to choreographed movement or support with understanding tasks.
Following discussions about their inclusive approaches, we offered to support their recruitment process by referring our most determined Magpie youth technique dancers. We were thrilled that four of our youth dancers took up the opportunity, with Jack and James attending a workshop at Sadler’s Wells and Becky and Holly attending one in Brighton. The four dancers made a real impression on the teachers and panel observing, as well as on the other young people they worked with.
In addition to our dancers getting involved, I was thrilled to be invited to be a guest panel member at the Brighton workshop. Here I got to watch three hours of technique, repertory work, creative tasks and improvisation. There were some incredibly talented dancers, so the level of competition was high. More than the wonderful talent though, what really stood out was how beautifully the dancers all championed each other, despite most of them having only just met. I was able to watch Becky and Holly who coped extremely well with the challenging material without once being phased. They were supported by an assistant teacher called Corrine, who did a wonderful job of supporting them and enabling them to challenge themselves in equal measure.
It is wonderful that prestigious organisations such as Sadler’s Wells and companies such as NYDC have inclusion so high on their radar. With opportunities like these, dancers with learning disabilities will have so many more doors open to them. We are excited to be continuing our affiliation with these organisations, to continue to champion each other’s work and opportunities for our dancers.
–Natasha Britton Co Artistic Director – Youth, Education & Training