Blind and unsighted entrants make debut in world dance event at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A top international dance event at Blackpool this weekend will include a category for blind and partially-sighted adults for the first time.

The milestone addition will be included this Sunday during the Open Worlds Dance Competition at the famous Tower Ballroom.

Participants have been attending weekly Ballroom classes run by Step Change Studios, which supports disabled people to learn dance.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

None of the participants had any dance experience before joining the classes and this will be the first competition for all students.

The famous Tower Ballroom in BlackpoolThe famous Tower Ballroom in Blackpool
The famous Tower Ballroom in Blackpool
Read More
19 glorious Blackpool Tower Ballroom pictures show an icon of elegance through t...

The students are supported by community volunteers who act as sighted dance partners.Molly Randall (34) who is competing, said: “Going to Blackpool is an absolute dream for me.

"Seeing the Tower Ballroom every year on Strictly - it is very much a ‘pinch me’ moment to think I will be dancing on that same floor.

"After losing most of my sight relatively suddenly, I didn’t think I’d ever dance again.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I tried going to regular classes but always found the accessibility was not what I needed and sadly I could not continue.

"Dancing with Step Change Studios is the highlight of my week. When the opportunity to compete came up the answer was never going to be anything but yes. I cannot believe how lucky we are doing this and I cannot wait for Blackpool.”Martia Bevan (29) who is blind and has never missed a single class said: “This is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities.

"The training is accessible and well thought through and we have been so lucky with the professional tuition we have received. I feel the commitment is really paying off.

"I am looking forward to dancing in the competition with a mixture of healthy apprehension, total appreciation, and absolute delight to be there.”Rashmi Becker MBE, Founder of Step Change Studios said: “Our students are so excited to dance at the famous Tower Ballroom and we cannot wait to see them hit the floor. More than 2 million people in the UK have sight loss and 250 people begin to lose their sight every day.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We regularly hear how difficult it is for people with sight loss to access inclusive dance opportunities. I hope our efforts and the support from partners will challenge preconceptions of who can dance, and encourage the dance sector to support more blind and partially sighted people to take part.”

The inclusion of a category for blind and partially sighted people has been made possible with the generous support of Freedom to Dance, which was founded in 2010 by Richard Gleave OBE and Anne Gleave.

They said: “We have seen firsthand the utter joy that Ballroom and Latin American dancing brings to our blind and partially sighted friends from Step Change Studios. Supporting them on this journey to Blackpool is the pinnacle of Freedom to Dance.”Thanking supporters, Rashmi added: “We would not be taking part in the competition without the support of Paul Killick, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Cimen Shanghai, Terence Lay Foundation, and dancewear company Chrisanne Clover. We also thank Blackpool entertainment Company Ltd and MEET Blackpool."

Related topics: