We Dance is a grassroots dance scheme that will see hundreds of people with a learning disability participate in dance workshops, a 2-day festival and high profile performances in Birmingham and Coventry city centres this summer. The project is led by learning disability charity Mencap, in partnership with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Freefall Dance Company, mac birmingham, Fox Hollies School and Performing Arts College and Midland Mencap.
We Dance is part of Dancing for the Games, which is inspired by London 2012 and part of the Cultural Olympiad in the West Midlands. It has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, which is creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK, as well as Arts Council England and Advantage West Midlands.
The project will launch with a series of workshops for people with a learning disability of all ages. The workshops will culminate in a two-day dance festival at mac birmingham on 13th and 14th July 2012, featuring performances, an exhibition, fun opportunities to try out different dance styles and much more.
A group of young film makers with a learning disability will also produce two Dance for Camera short films that will be screened at BBC Big Screen sites throughout the UK.
We Dance has been designed to enable people with a learning disability in Birmingham and the surrounding area to be creative, challenge perceptions and improve their health and wellbeing. There are over 20,000 people with a learning disability in Birmingham.
People with a learning disability are one of the most excluded groups from sport and leisure activities, with participation falling in recent years. There are significant barriers to people with a learning disability engaging in leisure activities, with 17% reporting that they are not able to afford a hobby or sport. Leisure services that are provided are often inaccessible or do not meet the needs of disabled people.
Lee Fisher, Head of Creative Learning and former Soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet, is also Artistic Director of Freefall Dance Company, which provides a training and performing platform for highly gifted young people of school leaving age, with severe learning disabilities.
“We are incredibly excited about this ambitious London 2012 inspired-project. The films, live performances, workshops and exhibitions are a fantastic opportunity for hundreds of people with a learning disability to share their passion for dance and help build the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
We hope that We Dance will challenge perceptions about what people with a learning disability are able to do, and introduce new audiences to the benefits and pleasure that comes from creating, performing and appreciating dance."
Naomi Temple, Programme Manager for Dancing for the Games says:
“It’s fantastic that through We Dance hundreds of people with a learning disability will have the opportunity to work with and perform alongside professional artists and connect with London 2012 in their own community. The two day festival at mac Birmingham on 13th and 14th July 2012 is set to be a brilliant event, with performances from Freefall, the acclaimed integrated dance company Stopgap, and showcase performances by local learning disabled community groups.”
To find out more about We Dance, please visit http://www.artspider.org.uk/projects/6