The UK development organisation and membership
body for community and participatory dance
Animated Edition - Issues 1996 - 2001
The pioneers
Animated, Spring 1997. Young disabled dancers are finding a voice, says Ray Jacobs
Students at Hereward College - The National College for People with Physical and Sensory Disabilities, study the Language of Dance as part of the BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts where they work hard to combine their artistry with the day to day practicalities and obstacles they face.

The group is close, supportive, sometimes energetic, sometimes lazy and specialises in strong sarcastic humour. Finding new solutions, adapting and improvising for themselves and each other is part of their daily experience.

The pathway from college to further education to a career in dance is now on the horizon for many students. On journeys we are all dependent. Dependent on the weather, on a clear road, on our car working. Young disabled dance students are equally dependent on receiving adequate support, a high standard of teaching and a working environment which allows and encourages them to express their artistry.

It is the responsibility of arts boards, development agencies, colleges and universities to ensure that the pathway for young disabled dancers is a clear throughway offering all the challenges and expertise that is needed.

Young disabled dancers coming through the education system are pioneers. The pioneers need support to explore, experiment, build new and relevant approaches to movement and dance, eventually taking over the role as educators themselves.

Specific funding and mentoring are required so that disabled dancers can make dance their own. Centres of excellence such as Hereward College, The Richard Attenborough Centre and Bretton Hall need extra support in providing this.

The commitment and talent of young disabled dance students are present. Their belief alone will bring them through, but commitment and determination from the combined force of students and arts establishments will create a truly fruitful future.

Ray Jacobs, Freelance Community Artist currently teaching at Herewood College.

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Animated: Issues 1996 - 2001