"It was amazing to be at HOME with my friends and family, my dreams are coming true, and I am looking forward to Edinburgh Fringe festival. Dancing is my life."
AFTER ten years of rejection, the dreams of a dance leader with Down’s Syndrome are coming true.
Not only has Jen Blackwell just starred in a short film about her journey with dance that premiered at HOME Manchester, but she is now set to take her dance troupe to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.
The 35-year-old has been dancing since she could walk but in adulthood her and her family found it difficult to find opportunities for her to train and work in dance.
They spent 10 years knocking on doors and being rejected – so decided to take matters into their own hands and set up a community dance project in 2009 – which saw the birth of DanceSyndrome – now an award-winning charity.
Eight years later, DanceSyndrome is going from strength to strength, with workshops across Lancashire and Greater Manchester, and Jen’s dreams of being a dancer and dance leader are a reality.
The short film starring Jen, Superabled, by filmmaker Natalie Kennedy was shown to a packed audience at HOME before the main feature Down and Out – about brotherhood, independence and disability.
After the films, DanceSyndrome performed at the aftershow party to a crowded room and got everyone up dancing.
Jen, who won the Inspirational Women of the Year award in 2015 at the Enterprise Vision Awards, said: “It was amazing to be at HOME with my friends and family, my dreams are coming true, and I am looking forward to Edinburgh Fringe festival. Dancing is my life.”
DanceSyndrome are now busy preparing for the festival with rehearsals and fundraising activities.
Jen’s parents Sue and Malcolm Blackwell, who have always supported their daughter to realise her dreams, said they found watching Jen at HOME ‘surreal’ but are very proud of her achievements.
Sue added: “The opportunities for DanceSyndrome that are coming up are all very exciting. They are all truly ready for bigger stages. They all want to show people who they are and what they can do – saying yes, we may have a disability, but we are dancers.”
Patron of DanceSyndrome and MEP for the North West Julie Ward also attended the premiere.
She added: “I have watched Jen’s journey and development of DanceSyndrome for four years and I am really proud to be a part of it. Everyone at DanceSyndrome is fantastic, they show that as humans we are differently abled – and it is an enrichment to society.”
If you would like to support DanceSyndrome on their journey to Edinburgh Fringe Festival go to www.dancesyndrome.co.uk/fundraising or text donate DANS10 £5 to 70070.
PHOTO CAPTION: Dance troupe at HOME: L-R dance leaders, Jen Blackwell and Becky Rich, filmmaker Natalie Kennedy, dancer leaders, Peter Pamphlett, Pauline Hall, Donna Harrison, and DanceSyndrome managing director, Dawn Vickers.