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ABOUT

BACKGROUND

Wheelfever Projects started in 2007 as part of Plymouth Big Arts Festivals in partnership Power Pack, a charity that provides social activities for disabled children and young people in mainstream education. The Charity became aware that disabled children and young people felt excluded from dance, as an art form and parents were uncomfortable about their children-accepting dance as something they were not able to participate in. In response to the young people’s stories of exclusion, for example, wheelchairs being a health and safety risk or the need to be able to walk or jump to take part, we organised accessible dance workshops for young wheelchair users. The day event ended with an informal showcase of each other’s dances and two short dance films from professional choreographer, Sue Smith. There was an enthusiastic reaction from the young people, their families, carers and friends, who were all interested in having regular opportunities to participate in dance. So Wheelfever Projects was set up with the aim of providing opportunities for disabled and non-disabled children and young people to explore dance together. We began by running monthly workshops, which included siblings and family members and Holiday Clubs to encourage children’s independence whilst providing a Short Break for families. We also opened up the sessions for all disabled children not just disabled children who are wheelchair users. We now run weekly workshops every Saturday. Our dancers have been involved in Performance Platforms across Plymouth and some of our young people have completed their Bronze Arts Awards and Dance Leaders Awards and are therefore are now able to support younger dancers.

 

Some of the comments from participants that spurred us on include

“…. it is quite good the way we moved with space and movement. Sometimes we moved in wiggly lines, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, we moved high and low close together and spread out. It was fun. If we did ballet lots of us couldn’t do it, but with this kind of dance everyone can do it.”

“I love it … I want to dance every day … it makes me feel strong”

“I feel much more confident”

“I didn’t know I could do that” “I learnt moves … how to make a film and edit it, I learnt how disable people know how to dance”

COLLABORATING ARTISTS

Paula Hocking is a Company Director. She has worked as a Community Dance Practitioner since 1997 and gained an MA in Choreography at Dartington College of Art in 2010, where she researched the relationship between dance and disability. She supports disabled young peoples involvement in dance and advocates the rich possibilities of inclusive dance practice. As well as leading access workshops, Paula is responsible for the management of Wheelfever Projects, its development, monitoring and evaluation.
Sue Smith is an independent dance artist and Choreographer based in Devon. She was a founding member and Associate Director of CandoCo Dance Company and is interested in challenging who takes part in performing and watching dance. She is a Rayne Fellow and PhD researcher at University College Falmouth.
Alexandra Hocking graduated from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 2010. Her main focus since then has been utilising the skills she developed to deliver dance sessions that give young people an opportunity to explore who they are physically as well as internally. She has taught in young men’s prisons, a Ugandan remand centre, Bosnia and works with inclusive dance practitioners in Plymouth. She sees dance as a bridge to increase self-belief and a tool to inspire people.
Jane Castree is a Choreographer and teacher. Since completing her BA(Hons) Degree in Contemporary Dance at The London Contemporary Dance School, She has worked extensively as a freelance dance artist and choreographer and presently teaches at the University of Plymouth and the University College Falmouth. (Photograph by Kevin Clifford)
Leroy Ward Leroy has worked with Wheelfever since 2010. At first his involvement was on a voluntary basis. He has recently just graduated from Plymouth University with a Diploma in Dance Theatre. He has developed a strong creative practice within the Company and is respected and valued by the young people – he has a unique ability to explore creatively within the work.

 

YOUNG PEOPLE’S STEERING GROUP : Kaleb Cragg, Aaron Fitzpatrick, Clementine Genuist, Amber Young. Board of Trustees: Nadine Benwell, Kaleb Cragg, Jan Dyer, Valerie Millar, Karen Pilkington, Sue Smith 

 

Supported by:

The Clare Milne Trust supporting disability projects in Devon and Cornwall with grants  http://www.claremilnetrust.com/