Wheelchair Dance calls on the UK dance community to realise its global potential.
By Rashmi Becker
In 2009, a Latin dance competitor in Lisbon was approached by a wheelchair user who wanted to dance. Daniele Oliveira had been a keen sportsperson prior to her accident but had been developing a passion for dance, so she turned to Nuno Sabroso who had competed at the highest levels nationally and internationally but had no experience of wheelchair dance. In just a couple of years, their dedication and ambition saw them achieve top rankings in the world and they became pioneers in their home country, and ambassadors for wheelchair dance performing and competing in over 30 countries.
In the UK, wheelchair dance is still in its infancy but the potential to develop the UK as a serious contender on the international circuit is very real. Wheelchair dance couples can be a mixed wheelchair/standing partnership (‘combi’) or two wheelchair dancers (‘duo’). The UK already has a global reputation for performing arts, and is home to some of the World’s leading dancers, choreographers and teachers. What is missing are more partnerships that will enable people to participate, nurture talent and support competitive ambition. The Wheelchair Dance Sport Association (UK) was established to address these very issues and it has worked hard to build grassroots participation.
Daniele’s mantra is that dancing brings happiness. “Wheelchair dance transformed my life. It developed my resilience, independence and taught me about the art of dance and movement. Dance also allowed me to explore what it means to be female, to be sensual and to express my emotions.” This is so crucial, yet too many people lack these opportunities and still ﬁnd themselves being deﬁned by their disability.
Leading UK wheelchair dance couple, Paula Moulton and Gary Lyness helped raise the proﬁle of wheelchair dance with their appearance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2012. Commenting on her hopes for the future, Paula said: “I would love to see wheelchair dance in the UK reach the same level as some of our European neighbours’ and to receive the recognition from Sport England to take it to the next level. My ambition is for everyone to have access to a wheelchair dance sport club, whether they wish to dance for fun or to compete.”
The WDSA (UK) encourages dancers, teachers and dance organisations to actively develop their efforts to support inclusive dance. The Association can help provide advice, workshops, training and support but as Nuno and Daniele have shown, imagination and a passion for dance is all you need to get started. Rashmi Becker is the Patron of the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association.
For more information about wheelchair dance visit: www.wdsauk.co.uk
If you are interested in wheelchair dance lessons with Nuno Sabroso, you can message him at: www.facebook.com/nuno. sabroso