Month: October 2018
Last Saturday 27th October, saw dancers from across the country attend the UK National Para Dance Sport Championships 2018 in Harrow.
Strictly Wheels club team featured 5 debutante dancers, with some returning to retain their titles competing alongside over 50 competitors.
The day kicked off with a Latin 5-dance showcase performance from our own GB competitors, Paula Moulton and Gary Lyness. The couple are currently 8th in Europe in Latin Combi in the official World Para Dance Sport rankings.
First to take the floor was the Conventional Singles, with Goz taking to the floor in Class 1 to defend her double title from the last 2 years. Goz says “The worst part of competing for me is waiting in the line-up for the results. That’s when my nerves kick in, because it’s out of your control. You’ve done all you can in the performance and now it’s up to the judges to see if you’re good enough”.
Needless to say, there was nothing to worry about. She shone through with her varied choreography and a winning smile to make her 3rd consecutive Gold in Single Women Class 1.
Up next was Duo couple Kay dancing with Paula, who samba’d their way to Gold again for Strictly Wheels club.
Lloyd and Goz in Combi Class 1 hoped to win back their title from 2016 but were just pipped to the post by last year’s winners to take Silver Medal for the 2nd year running. Their energetic samba stole the show though.
Last to dance in the conventional events was new paring Kay and Melvyn. They only paired up 3 months ago and were nervous taking to the floor, however, neat footwork and top line in the Waltz and Quickstep sailed them through to take another Gold for Strictly Wheels. Melvyn said, “It was a very friendly and enjoyable competition”.
The afternoon session featured the Freestyle events in Singles, Combi and Group dances.
Gary and Paula opened the afternoon with a sneak preview of their new Freestyle routine. The routine gets its competition premiere at the WPDS European Championships on 9th November in Poland.
For the first time ever our dancers took part in the Freestyle events with Kay dancing in Single Women Class 2 and Lloyd and Goz in Combi Class 1.
We’ll be honest, they were a little under rehearsed due to time limits before the event, however, we were incredibly proud of their achievements.
Kay’s emotional routine to “This Is Me” from Greatest Showman stole the round with the audience reaction but failed to wow the judges as much taking the bronze medal. Kay commented “I especially enjoyed my freestyle dance and the reaction I got, the support and appreciation from the audience was really special and I shall remember that for a long time. I’d do it all over again tomorrow if I could!”.
An atmospheric “He lives in me” from the Lion King from Lloyd and Goz was confidently performed and again saw them pick up the bronze medal. They’ll be brushing up their routine more in the next 4 weeks before they compete again at the Malta Open Dance Spectacular. Lloyd said “performing freestyle for the first time was a highlight for me. Despite it not being perfect on the day, one judge scored us first. So, I know with more polish and practice the routine has potential to do better”.
Lloyd was also quick to congratulate his dance partner; “I realised how much I appreciate Goz as a partner and competitor. Everyone heard how pleased I was when she won gold in Single Women again!! I am proud and lucky to have her as my partner”.
Other memorable performances from other competitors came from Birmingham Freewheelin’s Group routine to Tina Turner’s Rolling. Not to mention the huge group number by WOWD to Greatest Showman.
Paula said “We’re super proud of our dancers some of whom were thrown freestyle choreography a few weeks ago. Having the courage to trust us as coaches. For them to get on the floor and perform the way they did was amazing. What makes it worthwhile is to see the emotion on their faces when their results are called! It just goes to show what wheelchair dance can do for people and we hope more people can come and join us to learn.”
In total Strictly Wheels club came away with medal placings in every event. Total medal tally is 3 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze.
If you are interested in learning to wheelchair dance our classes take place in Manchester each week. Everyone is welcome no matter what your background or experience.
Saturday 27th October 2018 sees the UK Para Dance Sport National Championship at Harrow Arts Centre.
We took time out to speak to Strictly Wheels club members, about their preparation for the competition.
You’re about to compete in the UK Para Dance Sport National Championship; how do you feel about it?
Goz – This year is my busiest Championships! I am hoping to defend my Single Ladies National title; Lloyd and I are dancing in the Debutante Combi Class 1 again! We are concentrating on finessing the technique in our routines and creating more of a connection between us. This is also our first time dancing freestyle, I don’t want to mess that up. But we still have to cram in extra practice!
Lloyd – This will be our 3rd UK National Championships and our final time in the UK dancing in debutante class. We have danced internationally more this year and had great results in Holland! It would be fantastic to go out on a high this year with that UK National title once again.
Kay – I mostly feel excited about it, I’m really looking forward to a day of dancing – and not just competing, but also being able to watch (and learn from) the other dancers. I’m also a little bit nervous, I worry that I will forget what I am supposed to be doing and it will all go horribly wrong!
What results are you hoping for?
Goz – Within our partnership Lloyd is still the most emotionally expressive on and off the floor. However, I am the quietly competitive one, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to come first place! It would also be also be great to go out on a high as debutantes! I have no expectations in Combi freestyle, I will be happy as long as we perform the routine the best that we can!
Lloyd – I have worked really hard this year personally on my footwork, technique and confidence on the floor! It would be great to win and as the competition grows I’m expecting a strong competitive field! But, if we nail the detail, I am sure we can produce solid performances we can both be proud of! As for freestyle combi I am really excited to dance a different style, new routine and let our creativity and personality show!
What kind of preparation goes into a competition?
Goz – A lot of practice and rehearsal, when it’s not possible for us to train together, we work individually on various things. I exercise to strengthen my core and work to stretch and strengthen my posture! Lloyd works on footwork and getting more movement in his hips! Haha!
Lloyd – Recently we have not been able to practice together, so I have focused on individual improvement. I have fallen in love with dance and started taking ‘standing classes’ to help with posture, hold and footwork. I also watch videos of our past competitions to analyse what we need to do to improve and how I can implement the standing technique I have learnt to wheelchair dance. With freestyle I have been looking at costume and make up, which I have loved!
Kay – Extra practice! That includes scheduled practice sessions as well as practicing at home or where ever is possible really. There are some nice long corridors at work which are good for rehearsing arm movements. I have also just moved house and I have good floors and it’s not completely furnished yet, so I have enough empty space to get in a few spins around the kitchen!!
How important is Wheelchair dance to you?
Goz – To be honest I never thought dance would be a part of my life. Over the years it has become very important to me, I have made strong friendships and connections with my partner, dance teachers, class members and other international competitors! I get to travel more internationally, it helps with my muscle memory, fitness and confidence. I am slowly learning to embrace the glitter, make up and dresses too! Most of all I love competing!
Kay – Dancing is my happiest bit of the week! I do lots of physical activity which is really important to me mentally and physically – swimming, handcycling, Pilates, weights – but dancing is extra special. It’s not just the dancing itself, it’s also being in an environment where being a wheelchair-user is positive and desirable – you couldn’t have wheelchair dance without wheelchair-users!
Lots of other activities are ‘adapted’ but it’s not the same, and I could be the only wheelchair-user there, so dancing is very different. My favourite dances are: combi chacha and duo tango. If life had been different (and if I had a bit more musically and grace) I would have been a dancer…
Would you recommend taking part in Wheelchair Dance?
Goz – Yes! I am constantly trying to persuade people to join the club, and experience the benefits of wheelchair dance! So, yes!
Kay – Oh my goodness yes! It’s so much fun, you learn new ways to move and use your wheelchair, and also how you can use the environment or other people (with their consent of course) to turn and move. The group element, especially our group dances, are fab too and definitely a bit anarchic sometimes. Being able to respond to and connect with music is very freeing, it’s a real escape from all the stresses and strains of daily life and especially as it in a wheelchair-positive environment.