Rosanna Hopkins loves to dance. Her much loved younger brother Jonathan is a DJ, hitting the turntables while his sister gets her groove on. But Rosanna has Down Syndrome, so regular club environments can be intimidating and overwhelming for her. This gave little brother Jonathan a great idea – why not organise a social event for people with the same needs as his sister?
Social nights for the disabled
The very first “Dance For Abilities” social event was launched at Hotel Ravesis in Bondi. The free event was exclusively for adults over 18 with an intellectual disability, making it the first of its kind in Sydney. The event also included a hair and makeup station, a fully-equipped candy bar and a dance competition – so that everyone could have their Saturday Night Fever moment.
The guest list included 135 people plus carers and family members. Its success was staggering – the turnout was so huge that organisers had to turn away 50 people on the night. And it’s no surprise why – many hours had been spent catering to the needs of their clients, with headphones available, dark glasses provided, and no strobe lighting which could affect people with seizures or epilepsy.
Danceability lets people dance like no one’s watching
There are other organisations working in this space too. DanceAbility shares the joy of dance, enriching the lives of people with intellectual or physical disabilities by giving them the opportunity to experience movement and music in a safe environment. From young to old, the DanceAbility studios are regularly infused with the lively rhythms of hip hop, jazz, line and ballroom dancing.
The enthusiasm of the participants is no more evident than at their end of year concert, where they relish in the opportunity to showcase their hard work and dedication to family and loved ones. The smiles on everyone’s faces is proof beyond a doubt that DanceAbility brings immeasurable joy into their lives – fun, friendships, fitness and that feeling of freedom only dance can deliver.
Organisations like DanceAbility and events like Dance for Abilities are so important for the disabled community. The party received an enthusiastic thumbs up from Rosanna, who even took to the turntables herself with a favourite Michael Jackson track. Her only disappointment? “It was a shame I didn’t get to play Mamma Mia”, she grinned.