Specialist performing arts course launched for people with learning disabilities
Individuals who dance are happier than those that don’t dance according to one study highlighted by Thrive Global. This is great news for aspiring dancers with additional needs as the UK’s first ever degree-level performing arts course is now up and running. The Mind the Gap Academy in Bradford has teamed up with a leading university to give people with additional needs the best training and support possible. But just how will this course benefit them?
A new way of learning
The Mind the Gap Academy has supported people with learning disabilities and autism for years, but up until recently they’ve only been able to offer one-day courses in theatre, dance and music. That changed in September 2021 when they unveiled a partnership with York St John University. Aspiring dancers with additional needs can now take part in a three-year course that will teach them all they need to know about classic and contemporary theatre, dance, music production and composition. Successful completion of the course will earn students a Certificate in Higher Education in Performing Arts. This is beneficial as it’s similar to completing the first year of a university-based degree and is an accredited certification.
Dance can also personally benefit people with learning disabilities and autism. For example, it can help them express themselves in a way they never thought possible. It’s also a good way for them to get in tune with their bodies. The Mind the Gap Academy only has 15 places on offer for their program, which is appropriate for their students as large groups can be challenging for some people with additional needs. A dancing career can also be furthered with the help of a specialist teacher. The academy’s teachers are typically trained in various styles of dance and offer safe and professional teaching, including one-to-one tuition where needed.
It’s fair to say that disabled people are significantly underrepresented in the arts sector. This is backed by data from the On the Move survey, which found that 52% of professionals in the industry said they had poor or very poor knowledge of work done by disabled artists. The new program being offered by Mind the Gap aims to turn stats like these around. Director of the academy Charli Ward says she hopes that it will increase awareness in the industry and make them realise how much talent people with learning disabilities and autism have, and that they have a lot to give to the sector.
For too long, most people with learning disabilities haven’t been able to get the full training and support they need to make a name for themselves in the arts industry, but all that is about to change thanks to Mind the Gap’s new specialist program.
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For further information about Mind the Gap visit their website here.