Fiona Musgrove shares her experience of attending the One Dance UK Awards
Balancing a White Cane and a Glass of Fizz…
The moment Step Change Studios was announced as the winner of the One Dance UK Innovation Award my whole body tingled with excitement. My mind flashed back to our weekly adventures through the throngs of tourists early each Saturday morning swishing our canes on a mission to make our dance class.
Hooked on Dance
Step Change Studios was founded by Rashmi Becker to provide opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people to dance. For the past six months I have been attending the ballroom programme for people with sight loss. I first met Rashmi when I was reporting for a radio station on her very first project: a ‘Strictly’ inspired dance event for people with a learning disability. From that point I was hooked and wanted to learn too, so when I heard about her new ballroom dance programme with London Vision I quickly signed up.
Boosting Skills and Confidence
The dance programme means so much to me. I have made friends, learned to navigate a crowded dance floor, developed dance skills I never had, and even taken my first ballroom dance exam. This lovely lady had done this for us. As I travel on the London Underground, something I had previously been nervous to do until the draw of dance boosted my confidence, many of the TfL staff ask me how my ballroom dancing is going. They even ask me to demonstrate to the amusement of startled passengers. It breaks the stereotype of a blind person – ‘wow they can dance’, and Step Change Studios made it happen.
Just as I had watched my dance friends walk forward one-by-one to collect their exam certificates and medals and the end of our dance term, I experienced the same pride when Rashmi stepped forward to receive the One Dance Award. As a radio presenter, I have attended various events but nothing as glamorous and exciting as the One Dance UK Awards. Here the stardust and glitter sparkled around the audience which included leading talent from dance, education, health, and media.
Balancing a glass of fizz in one hand and my white cane in the other I managed to have a quick word with One Dance UK Head of Industry and Artist Support, Helen Laws about the purpose of the awards. She said: ‘We wanted to create awards that recognise all the different types of people that work in dance to create the vibrant sector that it is’.
The importance of dance being accessible to everyone and the breadth of talent in the sector was also emphasised by One Dance UK CEO Andrew Hurst, both on stage and when he congratulated us personally.
What was striking about Step Change Studios receiving the Innovation in Dance Award is that it recognised its ‘groundbreaking and cutting-edge approach to dance’ in a mainstream category. This gives me encouragement that ‘inclusive’ practice is starting to be understood as central to excellence in dance.