The thousands of fans of the BBC’s hit TV show, Strictly Come Dancing, include many people with disabilities. Finally, thanks to world dance centres and other disabled organisations, the fact that you use a wheelchair does not mean that you can’t get out and shake your groove on the dance floor.
In fact, more than 40 nations now have dance activities including competitions for people who use both powered and manual wheelchairs. You can try traditional ballroom-style dancing, line-dancing, Latin or even ballet. Despite the recent high-profile craze, wheelchair dancing is nothing new and has long been recognised under the name, ‘integrated dance’. Competitive wheelchair dancing is recognised by the International Paralympic Committee and it’s hoped that it will soon be included in the Paralympic Games program of events. Current rules specify the size of the dance floor, the dance style, duration and tempo of the music, and dress code. Couples are judged by five to seven judges over a number of rounds.
Types of wheelchair dance
There are four distinct styles of wheelchair dance.
- Two wheelchair dancers together (duo-dance)
- One performer alone (single-dance)
- A combination of non-wheelchair and wheelchair dancers performing a synchronised routine that includes freestyle elements (group-dance)
- A wheelchair dancer with an non-wheelchair one (combi-dance)
Dancing as a leisure activity provides participants with many benefits. People who dance regularly report feeling more confident, more inspired and less in need of physiotherapy. Dance requires mental focus and skill through which a moving work of art is created. A dancer’s ability set is forgotten and becomes irrelevant as they express themselves through the music during the performance.
Who can take part?
Wheelchair dancing embraces many different disability groups: those with spina bifida, amputees, the visually impaired, paraplegics, individuals with MS, and those with cerebral palsy to name a few. Even if you don’t fancy taking to the dance floor yourself, you’ll still be welcomed as a supporting member of one of the many clubs out there.
Wheelchair dancing is for everyone! When you’ve finished reading this article, Google your local club and release your inner Travolta!
Image source: Paralympic.org