How has dancing empowered your voice?

This summer, Arts Intern, Brittany, posted a social media call out for young dancers with additional needs, as she was curious to discover the impact that these young women believed dancing had had on their self-confidence, their sense of self, and their ability to express themselves. Those who responded to the call out were invited to share their thoughts and reflections in video format. Here’s what they had to say about themselves and their journeys as dancers.



This is Georgia, aged 21. She has Williams Syndrome, which presents as learning difficulties, and she loves music and dance!




“I felt so free and like I could be me.”


*We understand that the past few months have been extremely challenging, especially for those with additional needs, however we do encourage the wearing of face coverings as per government guidelines. If you require further information on the latest UK guidelines in a more accessible format please see below.


Coronavirus Resources - Widgit Symbols

NHS Coronavirus Resources - Makaton | Accessible Formats

Mencap Easy Read Resources - Face Coverings | Advice and Support




Blythe also dances at The Orpheus Centre. She has choreographed her own version of ‘This Is Me’ from ‘The Greatest Showman’.


Although Blythe is verbal, she finds it hard to express herself using speech alone so she also signs using Makaton. In addition to being a useful communication tool, signing is another creative outlet through which Blythe can demonstrate her musicality and performance skills.


“I am Blythe. This is my voice.”

You can find out more about Makaton here.




Isabel is the Choreographic Assistant for This Is Us inclusive youth dance Company. She decided to introduce herself with a series of movements.


“I love moving my body.”

She also took part in an interview carried out by her This Is Us colleagues.




Lucie is 29 and is a proud member of Dance Syndrome. Here’s her contribution to the project.



“Dancing makes me happy, cheerful, and free.”



Becky also dances for Dance Syndrome, where she is an ambassador and dance leader. She loves dancing, and she loves to party!



Becky is also a proud spokesperson for Dance Syndrome and is passionate about equality and inclusion.



“My message to the world is love, peace, equality, kindness, inclusion, and respect. My motto is be proud of who you are, and keep dancing.”

Empower Her* Voice is extremely grateful for Georgia, Blythe, Isabel, Becky and Lucie’s joyful, honest and passionate responses to the project and we are thrilled to be sharing them on our platform.

We would also like to thank Imogen - creative director of Tailfeather Dance and member of The Orpheus Centre Performing Arts faculty; Jan and Hannah - co-directors of This Is Us Dance Company; and Sophie, lead artist at Dance Syndrome, for their enthusiasm and support behind the scenes, and their dedication to making dance more inclusive and accessible to all!


If you, or a young dancer you know, would like to be featured in a future project, please send an email to brittany@empowerhervoice.com.




TRANSCRIPT/VIDEO DESCRIPTIONS:


VIDEO 1 (Georgia)

Visual description: Georgia is wearing a pale pink zip-up top, grey tracksuit bottoms and glasses, and her wavy hair is loose. She is outside, standing on the grass in front of a large, colourful. mural. She speaks to the camera and then spins herself around, moving towards and away from the wall behind her with fluid arm movements. She blows a kiss to the camera.

Audio: (There is wind blowing in the background) I love to dance, ‘cos it makes me feel free…



VIDEO 2 (Georgia)

Visual description: Georgia is wearing a blue T-shirt and a pale pink jacket and has her hair in plaits. She is sitting on a grey armchair in front of an orange wall. She smiles and laughs and moves her hands as she speaks.

Audio: (a conversation between Georgia and her mum) And...action! Hi, my name is Georgia and I’m gonna be 22. When and why did you start dancing? I started dancing when I went to Orpheus and I felt so free and like I could be me. How does dancing make you feel? Dancing makes me feel like I can be myself and be free from everything. What has dancing taught you? Dancing has taught me that you can be whoever you want to be, even if, even in, even when you’re in character. What has been your favourite dancing experience? When I was dancing to...um, when I was dancing to Girls Just Want to Have Fun in Cindy. And why was that? Because it’s like Cindy has, it’s like she has, she becomes who she wants to be in that song and she becomes a princess, so… What does dancing mean to you? Dancing means to me to be free, and adventure, and stuff… How would you describe it to someone? I would describe it as being free, and being whoever you want to be, and don’t feel ashamed to...just be who you want to be. Do you have a favourite dance style? Um, yes I do. Um, I love freestyle because it really, um, helps me to be myself and the teacher’s always proud of me when she sees me do it. Tell me about yourself. What do you like/dislike, what traits do you have, your personality…? Well, I dislike [...]



VIDEO 3 (Georgia)

Visual description: Georgia is wearing a blue T-shirt and a pale pink jacket and has her hair in plaits. She is sitting on a grey armchair in front of an orange wall. She smiles and laughs and moves her hands as she speaks.

Audio: (a conversation between Georgia and her mum) [Well, I dislike] sudden noises, I dislike dogs and I dislike um, footballs. I love dancing and singing and acting, and Orpheus is like that kind of college because we’re a dance..we’re a dance company, dance, um..I can’t..we’re a dance place and we do there… How have you changed since starting to dance? I’ve changed a lot because I feel I didn’t really, really have confidence in me but then I went to Orpheus and I did dancing and I had a very lot of confidence in my, in me. What makes you proud to be yourself? Um, that I can be, um, a dancer and a actor at the same time, but also be in the play or the panto that we do every year. If you could make a dance piece yourself what would it be about? It would probably be about, probably...hmm, that’s hard to choose. Um, that’s a really hard question, I don’t know! Okay, so what if it’s about yourself, what would it be like? Um, probably, it would be like, there’s this girl and she has these feelings and sometimes she keeps them trapped in, and she doesn’t really tell her parents or anybody else how she really feels, ‘cos she thinks she’s going to get in trouble or something’s going to go wrong or she’s worried… Think that would be a good thing for me to do. If you could say one message to the world what would you say, what do you want them to know?

That coronavirus is over, like literally, nobody should wear any masks any more, it’s all over, we need to have joy, and when I see people wearing masks I don’t feel like it’s that kind of world. You want it to be over? Yeah, I want it to be over. Thank you! Thank you, bye!



VIDEO 4 (Blythe)

Visual description: Blythe signs as she speaks. She is wearing a black top and leggings. There is a light coloured wall behind her and the space around her is clear. There is a pinkish-green filter on the video. Blythe dances to the music - her arm movements are strong and expressive and she smiles as she dances.

Audio: I am Blythe. This is my voice. [Music - This is Me from The Greatest Showman soundtrack; lyrics here]



VIDEO 5 (Blythe)

Visual description: The video has a black and white filter. Blythe is wearing a black top and leggings. There is a light coloured wall behind her and the space around her is clear. She dances to the music with soft, lyrical movements and elements from ballet technique.

Audio: [Music - Dancing On My Own by Calum Scott; lyrics here]



VIDEO 6 (Blythe)

Visual description: Blythe wearing a black T-shirt and black leggings; she is sitting cross-legged in front of the camera. She uses Makaton signs to interpret the song lyrics.

Audio: [Music - What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong; lyrics here]



VIDEO 7 (Isabel)

Visual description: Isabel is wearing a bright pink T-shirt. She is dancing in her living room; there are pictures on the wall and mantlepiece behind Isabel and there are wooden beams on the ceiling. She is smiling as she dances. She uses lots of gestures and graceful arm movements as part of her choreography.

Text in the video: We asked Isabel some questions… Isabel created a dance from her responses... All moves have been created by Isabel herself… Move 1. Introduce yourself. Move 2. Isabel loves contemporary and performing strong movements! Move 3. Isabel is feeling great! Move 4. She enjoys making everyone happy with her dancing. Move 5. Her personality is fun and energetic. Move 6. Her favourite moves are graceful arm movements… Thank you for watching Isabel… “The choreographic assistant for This Is Us Dance Company!”

Audio: [dramatic piano music]



VIDEO 8 (Isabel)

Visual description: Three women are talking to each other over Zoom. Isabel appears in the top left corner of the screen, Hannah in the top right corner, and Jan is in the centre below. Hannah and Jan occasionally take notes as they talk; they frequently nod and smile while Isabel is speaking.

Text in the video: An interview with the “This Is Us Choreographic Assistant”... (the interview questions are also shown as text)

Audio: (a conversation between Isabel, Hannah and Jan) When did you start dancing? I started dancing when I was three years old. Isabel, why did you start dancing? Because it makes me wanna express myself through dancing with music. How does dancing make you feel? Ah, it makes me feel happy and very graceful. I feel like being very grown up, and I dance a lot with different groups. Mm. With Tailfeather and This Is Us. And, it feels great learning with them. What have you learnt from dancing? I’ve learnt from dancing doing different styles… Have you got any top tips about being a professional dancer maybe? Oh, being a professional dancer is very easy for me really, because I’ve been taught by professional dance teachers from an arts school, and also with you, also, when I first started, and Stopgap, also, very professional standards. So, Isabel, what’s been your favourite dancing experience? My favourite dance experience is doing different dance shows, as a...from a dance school when I was with them… Okay, any particular one that stands out or just all of the performances? They’re all stand out performances that I’ve done. I love that, yeah! And why do you like performing Isabel? Uh, because it’s a very fun thing to do with my life, and dancing. What does dancing mean to you? It means to me very fascinating and very very grown up. How would you describe dancing to someone? I’d describe dancing to someone as very more emotional for me. Yeah, nice. And also being overpowerment. Ooh, lovely word. I love moving my body. Yeah, okay. Do you have a favourite dance style or dance class? Contemporary’s my favourite. And what’s your favourite contemporary dance move? Lovely graceful arms movement. Could you please list three things you love. Ah, three things I love are music, and um my second one would be my favourite songs, and my third one would be my favourite artist or bands. Cool, nice. Now, three things that you don’t really like. Um, three things that I don’t like are pains… My second thing I don’t like, um is people talking in the background. Yes, mm, yep, I agree. And my third final one which is people fighting. Isabel they’re really great things, thank you so much for sharing those, that’s really lovely. I would like you to think of three things to describe yourself. Okay, I’m very graceful, enjoyable, and happy. Ah, lovely. How do you think you’ve changed and developed, or grown as a dancer? Um, my changes as a dancer...and being grown up, okay, well, being my first age of dancing, 15 years old, and now I’m 23 years old, so I’d love to carry on my dancing. What makes you proud? Ah, my family support me as a grown-up daughter and great dancer. If you could make a dance piece about anything, Isabel, what would you choose your piece to be about? I’d choose my piece about being a grown-up and being so confident about myself. And what kind of dance piece would it be? I think it would be contemporary. Um, is there anything, from your perspective, from your point of view, as an independent woman who has Downs Syndrome, is there anything that you feel is important for people to know? ...Um, important to me, from everyone, who loves seeing me dancing in the public… How do you think people feel when they see you dance? Um, feel more overpowerment and very emotional. And why do you think that is? I think that is when people...cause them to break down in tears when they watch me dance..you can ask my mum! We know about that, don’t we! (laughter) If you could give one message, so one message to the whole world what would it be? I think it would be keep on dancing is my message... I love that, keep on dancing!



VIDEO 9 (Lucie)

Visual description: Lucie is sitting at a wooden table, talking directly to the camera and smiling. She is wearing a royal blue top with a white Dance Syndrome logo on it. There is a picture frame and a bunch of flowers on the table behind her.

Audio: My favourite dance move is...



VIDEO 10 (Lucie)

Visual description: Lucie is wearing a royal blue Dance Syndrome T-shirt and dark blue trousers. The room she is dancing in has light coloured walls and carpet, and large, open windows. There is a cabinet behind Lucie and there are ornaments along the window sill. Lucie moves her whole body as she dances - there are frequent dynamic changes in her movements and lots of the choreography is strong and upbeat.

Audio: [Music - This is Me from The Greatest Showman soundtrack; lyrics here]



VIDEO 11 (Lucie)

Visual description: Lucie is sitting at a wooden table, talking directly to the camera and smiling. She is wearing a royal blue top with a white Dance Syndrome logo on it. There is a picture frame and a bunch of flowers on the table behind her.

Audio: Hello, I am Lucie White. I am 39 years old and a member of DanceSyndrome. I love swimming, reading, colouring and most of all I like dancing. Dancing makes me happy, cheerful and free. My favourite experience was at the Empire Theatre in Blackburn when I was performing in ‘Express’.



VIDEO 12 (Becky)

Visual description: Becky is standing in her living room, which has cream walls and a fireplace. There is a large TV in one corner and a wooden cabinet in the other - there is also a framed painting on the wall above the fireplace. Becky is wearing black leggings and a black T-shirt with the red ‘Dance Syndrome’ logo on it. Her dancing is energetic and joyful.

Audio: Hi everyone, my name is Becky Rich, and I am a dance leader with Dance Syndrome. I have chosen a couple of songs that I would like to do for you...and, I love my dancing, and this is what my dancing does for me. [Music - Man! I Feel Like A Woman by Shania Twain; lyrics here]



VIDEO 13 (Becky)

Visual description: Becky is standing in her living room, which has cream walls and a fireplace. There is a large TV in one corner and a wooden cabinet in the other - there is also a framed painting on the wall above the fireplace. Becky is wearing black leggings and a black T-shirt with the red ‘Dance Syndrome’ logo on it. She makes lots of smooth and expressive arm movements as she dances, shifting her weight rhythmically from one leg to the other.

Audio: Hello everyone, I am now going to do the second song for you. [Music - Search for the Hero by M People; lyrics here]



VIDEO 14 (Becky)

Visual description: Becky is sitting on a red sofa and is looking directly at the camera. She is wearing a black T-shirt with the red Dance Syndrome logo on it.

Audio: Hello ladies, I am Becky Rich. I am aged 29, and I am ambassador, and spokesperson, and dance leader with the charity Dance Syndrome. I really love history, the Royal family. I really love my dancing and I love to party. When I dance I feel like I am on top of the world. I am feeling fantastic and I am feeling great, and I am proud of who I am. I am an outgoing person, and like to be with everyone, and I am a conference speaker. If anyone gets upset I cheer them up, I am there for them. My message to the world is love, peace, equality, kindness, inclusion, and respect. My motto is be proud of who you are, and keep dancing. Thank you, ladies.



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Thank you to Molly Beardall for our logo artwork