First ever SEND Does Strictly coming to East Lancashire in June

By We Love Creative

03 May 2024

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Sandersons Dance is preparing to put on what they believe to be the very first SEND Does Strictly.

Taking place on June 29th at King George’s Hall, Blackburn, this inclusive event will feature seven adults and five children with special educational needs, or disabilities, proving that there are no barriers to dance.

The 12 dancers will be paired with Sandersons’ own professional dancers, to learn two dances each before the big, cabaret style event with evening meal.

All proceeds from the event will go towards a new CIC called Pendle Community Dance, which will encourage and support further SEND dance activities both in the studio, schools, and the community.

The event was the brainchild on Sandersons’ Principal Jackie Sanderson, who last year got involved in the first Pendleside Does Strictly which raised a phenomenal £56,555 for Pendleside Hospice.

Jackie said: “Everyone absolutely loved it and it was wonderful to see 10 amateur dancers take to the stage and enjoy every single second.

“It got me thinking about the confidence it would give some of our SEND students if we were to do the same for them, so I floated the idea and the response was a resounding YES.”

One of the 7 adult contestants Craig Hartley, who has Down Syndrome and his sister, Dawn Vickers, an ambassador for inclusive dance, will speak at the event. 

Craig said: “Dancing has been my passion since I was a teenager, inspired by idols like Fred Astaire and Frank Sinatra. Ballroom dancing is my favourite style, and it's where I truly come alive.

“This event is incredibly meaningful to me. It's a chance to share my love for dance with everyone and inspire others to pursue their passions regardless of any challenges they face. Winning would not only be a fantastic achievement but also the perfect kick-start to a year of celebrations from age 49 to the big 50.”

The youngest of the five child contestants is Arthur O’Doherty, aged 8, who, as a huge fan of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, was inspired to start Latin and Ballroom classes with Sandersons. 

He said: “As someone who's autistic, dancing is more than just a hobby for me—it's a form of self-expression and a source of joy. I'm diving into this new adventure with excitement. Even though I've never done partnered dancing before, I absolutely love trying out new dances and pushing myself. 

The 12 duos have already started lessons and have eight weeks to finesse their performances ready for the big day.

Jackie said: “We are really proud of our 12 dancers who, despite a range of what might be seen as ‘barriers’, grabbed this opportunity by both hands and cannot wait to get up there on stage to perform.

“We’re proud too of our professional dancers, who had no hesitation in signing up to partner them and we’re certain they will all enjoy the experience, from initial lesson to final performance.

“Dance really does have the enchanting ability to bring people together and to nurture understanding and respect for each other's unique qualities. 

“Sandersons has always prided itself on being a family; a community of dancers and their families who grow together and make special bonds. We don’t want this experience to be exclusive, which is why we have set up Pendle Community Dance to make lessons inclusive and accessible to all.

“The more we raise, the more we can support the children and adults in our area who would really benefit from what we have to offer. 

“King George’s Hall seats 420 people. Wouldn’t it be marvellous to have it packed to rafters, all championing our 24 dancers.”

Click here o book your tickets.

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