The UK's First exclusive Wheelchair Dance Company gets moving in Hampshire
The UK’s first exclusive wheelchair dance company, Liberate Dance, launched by best friends Amanda and Vickie, right here in Winchester.
Both girls are passionate about dance, but when Vickie lost all movement in her legs, she thought she’d never dance again.
Vickie grew up with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a group of disorders that affect connective tissues supporting the skin, bones, blood vessels, and many other organs and tissues. A spinal cord injury in 2017 resulted in her becoming a full-time wheelchair user.
Keeping fit was always really important to Vickie so she took up Wheelchair Basketball and Para Ice Hockey. But she always felt there was something missing: the creative outlet that dance had given her.
After seeing The LA Rollettes (an all-wheelchair dance troupe founded by dancer Chelsie Hill) perform, she was overwhelmed by the desire to get dancing again.
Amanda runs Momentum, a Winchester based charity, that makes dance accessible to everyone.
While studying Choreography and Dance at Winchester University, Amanda developed a passion for teaching dance within the community sector. She specialises in delivering dance sessions to support well-being and for people with physical and learning disabilities.
Momentum provides street dance academies in Highcliffe, Stanmore and Winnall as well as specialist classes for the over 65s.
Amanda also teaches and choreographs for Blue Apple, a Winchester based theatre company that supports performers with learning disabilities to develop theatre, dance and film productions.
“I just love seeing how dance and movement can connect individuals and bring joy to people.” – Amanda Watkinson
The girls started spending time together in the studio. Together they explored how Vickie could begin to dance again. They wanted to use the wheelchair as a celebration of movement rather than an obstacle.
“It was so liberating, that between us we decided this was an opportunity to bring dance to all wheelchair users in a more accessible way” – Vickie Simmonds.
Liberate Dance was launched at the end of last year and is the only dance class in the UK exclusively for wheelchair users.
Its aim is to celebrate the freedom and movement a wheelchair brings to people with disabilities. Liberate offers a variety of dance styles that are all taught from a wheelchair, from hip-hop to contemporary, using the chair as a way to create new movements. Classes for both adults and children are run on Saturdays at Unit 12, a community venue in Winchester.
Classes are already popular with students travelling from all over the south to attend. There’s still plenty of space so, get in contact if you’d like more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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