Learning Disabilities & Autism

DanceSyndrome Celebrated at First Northern Music Awards

Members of Lancashire-based charity DanceSyndrome are celebrating after winning an award at the first ever Northern Music Awards at the Albert Hall in Manchester on Tuesday 23rd April.

DanceSyndrome transforms lives, creating change, opportunities and joy for people with and without Down’s syndrome and other learning disabilities, using inclusive dance as a vehicle in a unique, ground-breaking way which doesn’t exist anywhere else. The multi award-winning charity was founded by Jen Blackwell, who has Down’s syndrome, because she found it difficult to find opportunities in community dance that were accessible to people with learning disabilities. DanceSyndrome’s ethos is that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams. All DanceSyndrome sessions are disability led, with people with learning disabilities taking visible Dance Leader roles to inspire people to see what can be achieved when we all become more inclusive. The charity works across the North West offering weekly inclusive dance workshops, their own accredited leadership training and exceptional performances by the DS Collective performance company at a variety of events, including the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Northern Music Awards (NMAs) are the one and only major awards show celebrating the best of music from the North. The event is organised by Britain’s leading music charity, Nordoff and Robbins who reduce social isolation and enhance connection for local people, through music. The NMAs are turning up the volume to showcase some of the biggest stars and rising talent that belong to the North of England including DanceSyndrome. The aim of the event is to be the most influential music awards event that Greater Manchester has ever seen, whilst raising a lot of money for music therapy, so that Northern communities can have access to its transformative power.

The inclusive approach of DanceSyndrome’s “Everybody Dance” project was recognised through the Music and Culture for Wellbeing Award which was awarded by Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The award aims to elevate high quality, creative health provision in the North, to support people with health, wellbeing and socioeconomic issues. It celebrates innovative, creative, musical organisations that constantly demonstrate depth, originality and passion in their work, making a lasting, positive impact using the power of culture and creativity.

DanceSyndrome Ambassador and Dance Leader David Corr and Dance Artist David Darcy were VIPs at the star-studded event which featured performances from Liam Frey (The Courteeners), Lisa Stansfield, The K’s, English Teacher and Antony Szmierek.

David Corr gave the acceptance speech on the night. He said “Thank you so much for the award it means so much DanceSyndrome to be the winner when there are so many others here with such incredible talent. At DanceSyndrome we are an inclusive dance company that co-produce all of our work. We use dance to show that everyone can follow their dreams, if given the right support. Thank you again, it’s like a dream come true for us. Thank you so much!”

DanceSyndrome Founder Jen Blackwell said “Winning awards shows that people with learning disabilities can do amazing things with their lives if given a chance. I do have Down’s syndrome but that doesn’t define me. I believe that everybody can dance and do things they love no matter how other people define us.”

Julie Nicholson, Managing Director at DanceSyndrome said “It was such an amazing experience for our team members to attend the Northern Music Awards and see their work celebrated at such a prestigious event. At DanceSyndrome we firmly believe that people with learning disabilities can achieve anything that they set their mind to if they are supported to follow their dreams.

“Our inclusive dance work gives people opportunities to become visible leaders and have their voices heard on issues that are important to them. Being celebrated in the company of such high-profile artists from the music industry is significant recognition because it shows that our work reaches beyond the traditional concept of what the Dance sector looks like and demonstrates that our work impacts people in a range of different communities. Our activities are all co-produced so this award demonstrates that people with learning disabilities can and do make a significant contribution to society and should be celebrated and given a platform at events like this alongside household names from popular culture. We’re so proud of our team and their incredible achievements!”

Other winners on the night included The Courteeners, The Reytons, Spice Girl Melanie C, Tim Burgess (Charlatans) and Lisa Stansfield


Email Newsletter