Joy as Portsmouth’s first dance school for disabled children takes to the stage for its first show at the New Theatre Royal
A DANCE school that gives people with special needs an outlet to express themselves has wowed crowds with its first public show.
Performers at Portsmouth's Identical School of Dance wore beaming smiles as they commanded the stage of the New Theatre Royal for their debut show Believe on Sunday.
Stars of the show, which featured dance and period costume set to well-known musical numbers, perfected their routine with a morning rehearsal at the Guildhall Walk venue – before excitement reached a fever pitch as the curtains flew open at 6pm.
Mum Juliette Lidbetter, from Hilsea, said the show drew a line under a year of training that had ‘changed her daughter Sophia’s life’.
‘Identical means opportunities I never thought Sophia would get,' she said.
‘It means smiles and friendships forged at every corner – physical development I never thought I’d see.’
She added: ‘I can’t wait for the many more shows.’
Sophia, who is eight, added: ‘I got nervous when I first joined the group but they helped me overcome my fears.’
It is believed that Identical School of Dance is the city’s first dance school for disabled children.
Havant Mum Kelly Clark said joining Identical and training for Believe was something she 'never thought possible' for her six-year-old son, Lucas.
‘Lucas is autistic and non-verbal, so a lot of the dancing he does is hand over hand,' the 35-year-old said.
‘He still does his own thing, but he has gone from running around to taking a proper part.
‘This is the first group I’ve found that he can attend like this. He can be himself and he’s fully accepted.’
Dance trainers Courtney Sherwin and Skye Silvester said it had been ‘massively rewarding’ teaching the children throughout the year.
‘I teach on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday for an hour or two, as well as a full-time job at an additional needs school,' said Courtney, 17, from Waterlooville.
‘Knowing many of the performers may have not have had the opportunity to be able to do something like this before, at a mainstream dance school, is really humbling.’
Skye, 18 from Bedhampton, added: ‘One of our kids has just been signed off from physiotherapy because of the good the dancing has done for him.
‘At first he cried and wouldn’t leave his mum’s side, but now he’s going on stages like this.
‘This has been about showing these children can do this – that they can overcome their fears.’
Bedhampton mum Shelly Reber added she was ‘immensely proud’ of her daughter, Summer, who oversaw the show as Identical’s principal.
Go to facebook.com/identicalschoolofdance to learn more.