Saturday, September 23, 2017
Rebecca Herbert: Dancing is for all

Rebecca Herbert: Dancing is for all


As the nights begin to draw in, the familiar music means Strictly Come Dancing is back and this year, Jonnie Peacock is hoping to become the first disabled contestant to lift the glitterball.

I have always loved to dance and using a wheelchair does not have to stop this. Step Change Studios is London’s first ever dedicated inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance company and is open to beginners wanting to dance for fun and wellbeing to more active people wanting to compete.

With backing from the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund, Rashmi Becker set up the company as a response to the lack of inclusive dance opportunities, and is passionate about enabling people to participate and gain all the benefits dance has to offer.

She said: “Having a platform that will allow audiences to connect with inclusive dance and engage the arts and sports sector to support dance development is critical to transforming the dance landscape.”

The company has three strands – learning – providing classes, community – providing bespoke workshops and programmes in social care, healthcare and education settings, and performance – creating opportunities to perform in arts spaces and festivals. Competitions are open to all levels from beginner to advance and competitors can dance solo, ‘combi’– a standing partner and wheelchair dance partner, and duo – both dance partners are wheelchair users.

Step Change Studios launched its first set of group classes in South London earlier this year showing students what they can do with their wheelchairs when it comes to dance. Adrienne Armorer from Lewisham was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004.

A relapse soon after meant she had to give up dancing so was excited to hear about the classes. She said: “It’s good exercise, great fun, a lovely way to socialise and most importantly, I’m back on the dance floor.”

The company will present the first inclusive Latin and ballroom dance showcase in London in early 2018 and hope to inspire greater diversity in dance.

A new term of classes will start in the autumn and they are particularly keen to attract wheelchair users from the SW1 and neighbouring areas. Step Change Studios was recently recognised as an associate member of the English Federation of Disability Sport and has been awarded the Active Westminster Mark.

If you would like to know more about wheelchair dance classes, visit


Here are some wheelchair accessible restaurants and theatre to visit without any hassle.

Cabana 201 to 207 Ferndale Road, Brixton, SW9 8BE.
Celebrate summer’s ending by going Brazilian. The restaurant serves Rio street food which you can eat alone or order a few dishes to share washed down with a delicious cocktail. A ramp leads you to the ground floor tables and there is a spacious disabled toilet.

Bodeans 225 Balham High Road, SW17 7BQ.
The family steak, burger and barbecue restaurant chain is an American-style diner showing sport on large screens. There is a flat entrance at the side which has a few tables and a disabled toilet.

Ristorante Olivelli 127 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, SE22 8HU The Sicilian restaurant has four London branches and has a delicious menu as well as a lunchtime special menu. The restaurant is on street level with a disabled toilet. National theatre Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PX. Call 02074523000.

Follies Imelda Staunton stars in the Stephen Sondheim musical about the Weismann Follies’ vaudeville showgirls who return to the theatre they performed in 30 years ago.

Bread and Roses theatre 68 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DZ. Call 020 8050 3025 Window (29/8- 16/9) Window is an honest portrayal of young married life and what can happen when the everyday is constantly interrupted by the unexpected.


Rebecca Herbert: Dancing is for all