London 2012 opportunity for Birmingham dancers with a learning disability
People with a learning disability in Birmingham have been given the opportunity to take part in a dance project inspired by the London 2012 Games, which will be screened throughout the UK by the BBC.
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 inBirmingham 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.
Fisher says: “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 macBirmingham 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 the Arts Spider website.
There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in theUK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability and their families and carers by fighting to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
About Freefall Dance Company
Freefall Dance Company was formed as a partnership in 2002, by Birmingham Royal Ballet andFoxHolliesPerformingArtsCollege, to provide a training and performing platform for highly gifted young people of school leaving age, with severe learning difficulties. Initially formed with six dancers, the numbers have increased to ten currently. The company has created an extensive and varied repertory and they perform regularly at professional venues across the city.
About Birmingham Royal Ballet
Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) is United Kingdom’s leading classical ballet touring company. Based at Birmingham Hippodrome, the company performs a range of traditional, classical and heritage ballets as well as ground-breaking new works. The company’s Director is the award winning David Bintley, CBE and Chief Executive is Christopher Barron. Birmingham Royal Ballet consists of 60 dancers from across the world, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, a technical and wardrobe department, ballet staff, health professionals of the Birmingham Royal Ballet Jerwood Centre for Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries and Learning, Communications and Development departments. Birmingham Royal Ballet performs at Birmingham Hippodrome 10 weeks a year and tours extensively throughout the UK and overseas.
About mac birmingham
Opened in 1962, mac birmingham is a hub of creativity and learning in the Midlands. mac birmingham presents a broad range of contemporary work from both emerging and established artists across genre and is the most visited arts centre in theMidlands, renowned for its family friendly and inclusive approach. Originally intended for children, the centre now caters for audiences young and old, from the local community and beyond.
The arts centre boasts stunning architecture, a high level of accessibility and is set in the magnificent surroundings of CannonHillPark. 2012 sees mac birmingham moving into its 50th year.
About Fox Hollies School and Performing Arts College
Fox Hollies is a local authority maintained special school for pupils aged 11-19 years. All of our pupils experience great difficulty in learning basic skills, and we work with them and their parents or carers to understand and minimise them. Pupils are able to achieve a wide range of accreditation and qualifications that represent challenge at their individual level of ability, and we provide students with learning opportunities that have a post-school, work skills focus. Fox Hollies proudly celebrates its status as specialist college for the Performing Arts and have seen significant benefits from engagement in quality arts education and enrichment activities.
Dancing for the Games and the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad:
Dancing for the Games is part of the Cultural Olympiad in theWest Midlandsand is inspired by London 2012. It is a three year programme funded by Legacy TrustUK, an independent charity set up to help build a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Arts Council England West Midlands and Advantage West Midlands. Dancing for the Games uses the inspiration of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to get as many people as possible dancing across the West Midlands.
The Cultural Olympiad in the West Midlands is already touching the lives of thousands of people. To date some 930,000 people in the West Midlands have been involved in the Cultural Olympiad as audiences or participants, either as part of Open Weekend, the Inspire Programme, or through specific regional programmes. For more information about the Cultural Olympiad in the West Midlands, please visit the website.
Legacy Trust UK is an independent charity set up to create a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from London 2012 in communities across the UK.
The Trust is funded by a £40 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund (£29m), Department for Culture Media and Sport (£6m) and Arts Council England (£5m), and is a Principal Funder of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.
 141 Gordon D, Levitas R, Pantazis C, editors. Poverty and Social Exclusion in Britain: The Millennium Survey. Policy Press, 2005