I write with good news having completed my 24 hour danceathon raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society as part of their annual Elf Day. My challenge started on Friday 4th December at 10am and finished on Saturday 5th December 10am. There was only one way to kickstart the 24 hours and that was with Xpress-Yourself Keep Dancing From Home Greatest Class, the perfect class to set you up for the weekend run by Helen Mason, not only does she know every step and beat but every single word to every song. You can’t help but smile when you dance with Helen.
Throughout the day I was joined by Yvette Knight, First Soloist for Birmingham Royal Ballet who took me through a Ballet Barre, it was only 11am and my goodness I could feel all my muscles working. It was very enjoyable and a reminder of how talented and strong ballerinas really are.
Following that I danced with a great friend Rachel Liggitt, One Dance UK’s Inspirational Community Dance Practitioner 2018. Rachel is Co-director of Shropshire Inclusive Dance, (SiD) Dance Artist, Educator and Coach with an impressive record of achievement, working with a wide range of organisations within health, education, community and cultural sectors. Rachel began her career in the 90’s as an independent dance artist and performer, collaborating with dance artists and small-scale dance companies in tandem with workshop delivery. She was Dance Fellow at Leeds University 1996-2004, Education and Training Coordinator at Blue-Eyed Soul Dance Company 2006-2012, and has held several dance Artist in Residence positions. Rachel is a practising artist and a trustee for Powys Dance, Wales.
I have known Rachel for many years and she was the reason why I took a leap of faith and started to work in dance and has been very supportive ever since. Rachel guided me through a very lovely contemporary workshop helping me reconnect with my body and space.
I also delivered a free workshop to care homes streamed on Facebook. This felt really emotional as I haven’t been able to dance with residents in care homes since March and it is something that I have greatly missed.
When I was starting to feel tired at 6:30 Freewheelin Inclusive Dance were there to lift me up and what a joy the session was.
Freewheelin Inclusive Dance was set up by Helen Mason in 2017 in Birmingham, England. Freewheelin caters for disabled and non-disabled people of all ages and abilities who would like to learn a variety of dance styles from ballet to street, ballroom and latin and contemporary just to name a few. Originally set up to deliver specifically tailored wheelchair dance sessions, the group has grown and Freewheelin now offers Integrated dance sessions for disabled and non disabled people to dance together too.
The group have gone from strength to strength and have performance highlights such as; The Birmingham International Dance Festival, The televised Commonwealth Handover event, Performing in the halftime of the National Wheelchair Basketball Finals and at the Opening ceremony of the Birmingham Inclusive Sports Festival. Freewheelin have won the National Para Dance Competition in the freestyle group category two years in a row and have been a part of a national campaign for Sports England ‘We are undefeatable’.
Currently Freewheelin is running all classes online via zoom. To find out more or to join a class just email firstname.lastname@example.org
At 10pm I was starting to feel tired and who better than our Faye Hadley with smiles and enthusiasm in abundance to help me get my head back in the game. Faye danced our routines for December with me which meant the hour flew by.
At 6am, Reanne was kind enough to set her alarm early to get up and teach me a beautiful social Foxtrot. Reanne had the toughest spot of the challenge, I was exhausted and felt really queasy. However Reanne’s instructions to boil eggs and just have a quick sit down and lots of praise and encouragement was just what I needed.
Both ladies were amazing at motivating me and making sure I was ok. Since joining Xpress-Yourself both ladies have been highly regarded by our dancers and myself and I truly appreciate their friendship and continued support. Below is a short montage video of the 24 hour challenge.
The current total is £1830 which is staggering . If you would like to donate to support the Alzheimer’s Society in their work supporting people living with dementia, please donate here