We are changing the times for our wheelchair dance classes from Wednesday 11th July.
The new class time will start at 7pm til 8.30pm.
Weekly classes feature a mix of social, fun dances for everyone to learn and take part and also dances for competition with teaching of technique and individual routines.
Each week we also have a practice session from 8.30pm-9pm for competition dancers. The practice session only features music for competition dances and there will not be any tuition for this session. Dancers will be able to practice on their own.
We’ll be taking a some breaks during the summer months to relax and enjoy some much needed time out.
NO classes are held on the following weeks:
All other weeks there will be class as usual. We’ll be back full time every week from September getting ready for the UK National Championships in October.
Full details of classes can be found here.
We meet Goz, a regular at our wheelchair dance classes to find out what she enjoys about being a wheelchair dancer.
How did you find out about Strictly Wheels? – At first, I was taking part in a ‘Get Inspired’ challenge which I had pitched to BBC Sport, where I would take part in a series of different sport challenges.
A friend found Strictly Wheels wheelchair dance but initially I wasn’t keen. I didn’t want to do it, I thought it was cheesy and at school I hated dance I thought it was just horrible. However, after just one class I was hooked!
How long have you been a wheelchair user? – I’ve been a wheelchair user since I was 18 months old. I had an illness which left me with paralysis diagonally across my body, with my right arm and left leg greatly affected.
Why did you decide to take part? – After those first couple of classes I was hooked, I loved it and wanted to do more. I’m a very competitive person and took part in national competitions at school in shotput, discus and javelin. Dance is something I can do despite my disability and I enjoy that it challenges me, making me use my brain to remember the steps and get it right.
What do you like about the classes? – “It’s fun!” it keeps me fit. I would like to raise the profile and encourage more people to get involved. I like that the dances aim to replicate the same steps for wheelchair users as standing partners, and dances are adapted based on ability not disability.
What benefits has wheelchair dancing brought to your life? – Dance gives me a sense of achievement and builds my confidence. It has proven to me that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. I’m still on a journey to see where dance will take me.
What has been a highlight of learning to dance so far? – There are 2 highlights – taking part in my first competition in October 2017 – the UK National Championship for Wheelchair Dance Sport when I won Gold in Debutante Combi Class 1 and Debutante Duo Class 1.
More recently we’ve just returned from Cuijk, Holland from one of the largest international competitions and we won Silver against 8 other couples in Debutante Combi 1 – that was an amazing feeling to place that high in our first big international.
How far would you like to take wheelchair dancing? – I’m extremely competitive with an all or nothing attitude and feel anything less is a waste of time. “If you’re going to do it, DO IT!” In the short term, I’m aiming to move out of ‘Debutante’ to the next level and become an “Amateur” level dancer, with the long-term goal of competing for Team GB at top level. Since I was a little girl I’ve dreamed of competing in the Paralympics and fingers crossed that’s on track for Paris 2024!
Our FREE wheelchair dance classes take place every Wednesday evening at Trinity Sports Centre, Manchester.
We meet Oscar, a regular at our wheelchair dance classes to find out what he enjoys about wheelchair dancing.
How did you find out about Strictly Wheels? – My wife loves to dance, and she found the Strictly Wheels website and got in touch to find out about classes.
How long have you been a wheelchair user? – Over 20 years – I was involved in a motorbike accident suffering spinal cord injury.
Why did you decide to take part? – It is an activity I can do together with my wife, as a wheelchair user and non-wheelchair user it is hard to find activities to share.
What do you like about the classes? – The classes teach proper dance technique and the teachers are very patient and understanding. The classes are also FREE, which is a great plus point,
What benefits has wheelchair dancing brought to your life? – I was pretty shy and don’t like attention. The classes have helped to bring out my personality to others. Wheelchair Dancing also helps me to keep fit, and support my everyday life by building strength and makes things in day-to-day life easier.
Any sport or activity requires discipline and training, I take this discipline and apply it to my daily life. Classes get me out from home and give me something to focus on. It also helps me socialise with other wheelchair users and able-bodied friends.
I’m definitely braver now and overcame the challenge of being watched after taking part in a demonstration at the Wythenshawe Games Disability Day last year. I then went on to win a Gold and Silver medal at the UK National Championship in October 2016.
What has been the biggest challenge for you? – The classes are hard work, I don’t have good balance due to my disability and struggle to raise my arms above his head. The classes help me though and I can now do more than I could when I started.
What has been a highlight of learning to dance so far? – We got married last year and were able to surprise our wedding guests with a first dance. No one expected it and we received a great response with a huge round of applause.
What do you enjoy most about wheelchair dance? – Dance is something I can do with my wife as a couple, that we both enjoy. It’s actually helped our relationship, having a common interest, and brought us closer together. I love to dance and enjoy the social aspect that the classes give too. Sometimes I find it hard to motivate myself to get out but my wife steps in every week with her motivating words “Shut up and dance!”, which is great, as dancing is a release from the stresses of the day.
Our FREE wheelchair dance classes take place every Wednesday evening at Trinity Sports Centre, Manchester.
Last Saturday 22nd October saw dancers from across the country attend the UK National Championship in Ware, Herts.
The day kicked off with an Inclusive Dance Festival featuring dancers with many disabilities both physical and learning. There were lots of great performances throughout the morning from individuals and groups alike culminating with everyone present taking part in a group dance led by Grass Roots Manager- Emma Millward.
UK National Championship
The afternoon saw the UK National Championship for Wheelchair Dance Sport with dancers in all sections from Debutante to Amateur and Select.
Strictly Wheels team consisted of Lloyd and Goz dancing alongside Oscar and Patricia in the Debutante Combi Class 1 and Oscar and Goz taking to the floor in Debutante Duo Class 1.
The two Combi couples danced well in their heat and final dancing Waltz, Quickstep and a lively Samba. Lloyd and Goz spurred their way to win the class and take the Gold, closely followed by Oscar and Patricia who scooped the Silver Medal ahead of the other dancers.
The team didn’t disappoint either in the Duo section demonstrating great flair in each dance. Oscar and Goz beat off the competition dancing their way to the final to also take Gold for Strictly Wheels club.
The adjudicators praised the dancers for showing their enthusiasm on the floor together with good technique and demonstrating the character of each dance.
Gary and Paula, our founders, and teachers of the beginners danced Amateur Combi Standard Class 2 and Select Combi Latin Class 2. They demonstrated why they are the top Wheelchair Dance Sport couple in the UK retaining their titles in both disciplines.
Gary and Paula also wowed the crowd with an extended version of their Freestyle routine “Empire State of Mind” which won them a place in the Britain’s Got Talent semi-final back in 2012.
Paula said “We’re immensely proud of our dancers who have only been learning for 3-4 months now to have taken part in their first competition. To watch the sheer joy on their faces when their results were called was amazing! It just goes to show what wheelchair dance can do for people and we hope more people can come and join us to learn.”
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.
This week Strictly Wheels move our weekly Wheelchair Dance Classes to the more modern facilities at Trinity Sports Centre.
The new facilities based at Trinity High School, just outside the city centre are larger to give our dancers the chance spread out and use a big floor area to improve their skills for dancing.
We’ll be using the “Gym”, a large purpose built sports hall but there are also dance studio facilities with mirrors at the venue for those important competition routines!
We are very excited to make Trinity Sports Centre the home for Wheelchair Dance Sport in Manchester and the training centre for our top Team GB athletes, Paula and Gary.
Paula said “It’s great to have a modern facility that is fully accessible and a great floor to dance on!”
Our Wheelchair Dance Classes run every Wednesday from 7.30pm – 9pm and are open to all abilities – most of our dancers are beginners who are learning to dance for fun and some are working towards their first competition – the UK National Championship in October.
Make sure you check our Events pages to see when the next class is on.
The address for classes is: Trinity Sports Centre, Cambridge Street, Manchester M15 6HP
One of our Trustees, Rebecca, joined us for the first time in a Wheelchair Dance Class, here’s what she thought!
The lights dim, music flares and the click of heels begin. This is ballroom dancing!
I have always had a passion for dance since I was a small child. Watching dancers glide across the dance floor with such elegance and grace, or moving so quickly that watching their feet makes you dizzy! Plus the feathers, the sequins, and the dramatic make up – what’s not to love? So when I was invited to join a Strictly Wheels dance class, as a standing dancer, I jumped at the chance.
I have been an active dancer since the age of four, doing the usual childhood classes of ballet, tap and modern. However, as an adult it has been a couple of years since I have taken part in a class. So I was a little nervous, as I wasn’t sure what to expect from a wheelchair dance class. However, my nerves soon disappeared as I received a warm welcome from Gary, Paula and my fellow dancers and within minutes we were on the dance floor.
Our warm up started with a line dance, which was a great laugh and after a few minutes of watching Gary strut his stuff we were soon into the swing of it. A Sequence Waltz soon followed and this was my first opportunity to dance as part of a couple. Through the dance we learnt the correct hold, positioning and rhythm (as well as the steps). What struck me was there is not a lot of difference between dancing with a standing dancer or a wheelchair dancer; it is all about ensuring you have technique, trust and a good rapport.
Our final dance, the samba , was an exhilarating, exciting dance that’s fast – really fast! My feet went everywhere they shouldn’t, and each time I thought I had mastered the steps I ended up facing in the wrong direction. But time and practice will help; I am determined to get it right!
Each dancer was given equal attention and support, however, it was evident that this attention wasn’t due to class size but Gary and Paula’s style of teaching. Gary would jump in a wheelchair to go over moves, and Paula was on hand to give my dance partner and I tips on making turns tighter and cleaner. I never felt silly for getting things wrong, and they were patient and had helpful tips. I tend to always take too larger steps when I dance, but Gary explained moves should not go outside of my shoulder width – simple solution and it works! My dance partner asked if the dances were modified based on people’s disability, and I was delighted to learn they are tweaked to account for dancers’ ability, rather than disability – using what works!
Whether a wheelchair dancer, a standing dancer, an amateur or a novice, I would recommend the classes to everyone. It was a great night; I kept fit, learnt new skills and started some nice friendships. Personally I can’t wait for next week, and who knows in time I might be buying some sequins and feathers for my first competition!
Paula Moulton and Gary Lyness travelled to Lohja, just outside Helsinki in Finland last weekend to represent Great Britain at the IPC Suomi Open Championship.
The competition organised by the Finnish Wheelchair Dance Association was the first international competition to be organised in Finland and comprised of the Suomi Open Championship, the Finnish National Championship and the IPC Approved Suomi Open.
Dancers from over 10 countries were in attendance in the fantastic venue of the Susi Training Centre at Kisakallio. The floor was a joy to dance on!
The first day saw the beginners and amateur level dancers take to the floor followed by the IPC Competition with the Single Men which was dominated by Russia’s Maksim Sedakov and Germany’s Erik Machens. Combi Standard couples took to the floor also led by Russia and Ukraine and finally the Duo Latin couples danced perfectly by the winners – Ukraine’s Ivan and Nadiia Sivak, the current World and European Champions.
Day 2 of the competition saw Great Britain take to the floor with Paula dancing in the Single Ladies, just missing out on the final, which was deservedly won by Russia’s Galina Ryzhkova, by one point, placing 7th.
The duo standard event was again won by Ukraine’s Nadiia and Ivan Sivak giving them double gold in the Duo events.
The Latin Combi 2 competition was fiercely fought at the top by the Russian couples with Paula and Gary placing 5th in the final, a great result for them after getting back on to the competition floor after almost a year following injury and illness. Paula said “we danced well for our first competition of the year and were very pleased with our performance. The competition was well organised and all credit goes to Finland for hosting such a major event for the first time”.
You can see photos from the event on our Facebook page.
Gary and Paula’s next outing will be at the end of May in Frankfurt at the IPC Mainhatten Cup.
You can see one of our competition routines below!
There are several references as to who Saint Valentine was, but what we do know, it wasn’t until the middle-ages and the days of Chaucer that the celebration of Valentine was “invented” and linked to romantic love. Valentine’s Day was born and is now a booming commercial industry.
Many will argue it has lost it purpose and is now just a cash cow for businesses to capitalise on. Couples feel pressure to out-perform each other with sweeping gestures and expensive gifts.
But what about all of those people out there who do not have a significant other?
Love is not just an emotion shared between 2 people; love extends to family, friends, animals and activities and much more. Love crosses all boundaries and has no discrimination.
For us at Strictly Wheels Foundation, our love is dancing. Dance in all its forms, including wheelchair dancing, doesn’t discriminate and gives a freedom to those who dance. It is a chance to lose yourself in the moment and immerse yourself in the music through movement and expression.
There is a great saying “Dance like no one is watching!” Take this to heart, get lost in the music and love dancing like we do.
Sport England recently carried out an in-depth survey into disability, the different impairments numbers in different areas of the UK, so we ask why aren’t there as many taking part in disability sport?
Almost 1 in 5 people in the UK are classed as having a disability, that’s just over 18 million people, and almost 70% of those fall into the over 50 age group.
So how many of these actively take part in disability sport? According to figures produced by Sport England approximately 1.7 million disabled people are taking part in disability sports.
There are various reasons why people aren’t taking part in sports including:
- Lack of access to local facilities
- Lack of awareness of available sports
- Funding and costs
- Level of disability or being told you can’t do something
- Fear of injury
Many may not be aware but Wheelchair Dance is classified as a sport and is governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and dancers (athletes) competed at the highest level for World Ranking just as in any other sport.
Wheelchair Dance Sport is widely practiced in Europe with countries like Russia and Ukraine leading the World Rankings.
In the UK, however, wheelchair dance is not so well known and classes are few for people to take part, not just to be able to compete, but also to dance socially and have fun.
Strictly Wheels Foundation are committed to raising the profile of wheelchair dance sport to encourage more people to seek out classes and take up the activity and to break down barriers of why people don’t take part in this social activity and sport.
SportEngland, despite the IPC governance, has yet to fully recognise Wheelchair Dance Sport in the UK which could open up many avenues for funding for clubs and athletes to progress and complete for Team GB. With the right funding and increased awareness it would be fantastic if Wheelchair Dance could feature as one of the top disabilty sports in the UK.
We are proud to announce the launch of the Strictly Wheels Foundation, a registered charity to promote Wheelchair Dancing.
Strictly Wheels came about as a public profile of Paula Moulton and Gary Lyness as they began dancing to help create a voice for Wheelchair Dance Sport in the UK. Paula and Gary are most remembered for their appearance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 where they wowed the judges with their routines and made it to the live semi-finals. They have also competed for Team GB in Wheelchair Dance Sport for the last 5 years and have competed at IPC Level achieving World Ranking since 2014.
They are now very excited to launch the charity Strictly Wheels Foundation which will work both locally in Manchester, providing facilities for wheelchair dancing, and continuing to promote and raise awareness of the sport throughout the UK. The charity will also retain its name “Strictly Wheels” as a working name which is synonymous with wheelchair dance in the UK.
They have brought together Trustees with a wealth of experience in both the public and private sector in Fundraising and campaigns along with training, project management and health and fitness who will drive the charity forward.
We are extremely pleased to have full funding in place to run an exciting range of events coming in 2016 so look out for more information coming soon. Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter for live announcements.
Strictly Come Dancing Fever is upon us and we’re half way through the series so far and the Do the Strictly craze is gripping the nation.
It’s that time of the competition when the real cream of the celebrity dancers start to come to the fore and get through to the next rounds.
At Strictly Wheels we’ve got our eye on a couple of favourites with Georgia and Anita favourites in the girls and Peter and Jay in the boys. We’ll see if our top 4 make it through towards the final week.
Everyone’s been getting involved this year too with the social media craze “Do The Strictly” and our founders and dancers Paula and Gary weren’t to be left out! Watch our #DoTheStrictly wheelchair dance style below!
**UPDATE – 16-11-2015**
We are thrilled that our entry was chosen as one of the winning entries and was featured on It Takes Two with Zoe Ball.
As a result Paula and Gary won the opportunity to get tickets to watch the live show.
They both went to watch Strictly broadcast live from the magnificent Tower Ballroom in Blackpool! An amazing night and so great to see how the show is put together to go live!
The IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport Continents Cup 2015 takes place this weekend 5th-6th September.
The event which is the largest IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport competition in the calendar, ahead of the World Championships, will see dancers from at least 21 worldwide countries meet in St Petersburg, Russia.
Athletes will compete in the standard Ballroom and Latin categories as well as the new Singles and Freestyle events which, given previous years entries, will no doubt prove very exciting to watch. Former routines have wowed the judges particularly in the Group Freestyle events. Russia itself has dominated the event in previous years, so we are looking forward with anticipation to see the results from the weekend as a forerunner to the World Championships.
Unfortunately, Great Britain will not be represented this year due to lack of funding available to athletes in the UK so we are unable to send a team.
Wheelchair Dance Sport at this level is still not recognised so it is difficult to find funding and sponsors. We are still hoping for funding and sponsorship so that Team GB will be able to compete at the upcoming World Championships in Rome.
Over the last few years we’ve had some amazing opportunities to meet many different groups of people and introduce them to wheelchair dancing through wheelchair dance workshops. Often these are one off sessions, such as the National Naidex Exhibition or IIC however we have also had the opportunity to give long term support to other groups.
For the last 18 months we have had the privilege to work with alongside a group of Manchester based schools who already had a dance programme but wanted to expand and improve their offering with our wheelchair dance workshops. In that time the popularity of wheelchair dancing has increased so much the number of children taking part has exceeded the places available so some children have to take rotate when they attend sessions!
Through wheelchair dance the children have not only increased their dance skills but improved their day to day wheelchair skills. Their confidence has been boosted so much that some of them have even taken part in 2 international wheelchair dance sport competitions. It has been great to develop a long term relationship with the children and the schools.
We have also been committed to providing support to Whizz Kidz, a national charity program, especially at their camps, by supporting them with dance sessions and peer support and mentoring. These sessions go down really well proved by the number of teenage boys who end up enjoying dancing!
It sessions like these that really make our organisation worthwhile; being able to pass on skills and inspire people of all ages to get moving and discover the joy of wheelchair dance, whether they use legs or wheels!
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for delivering the dance session last week. The kids loved it and got so much out of it. They wouldn’t stop talking about it and ‘A’ in particular wouldn’t stop dancing all Camp.”
Cat Marsh – Whizz-Kidz
National Paralympic Day 2015 takes place on Sunday 26th July in London, Brighton, Plymouth and Nottingham.
The day is a celebration of disability sport and legacy from the fantastic 2012 Paralympic Games in London. The day will feature many events and open sessions to try sports along with the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games.
Wheelchair Dancing will feature at the London event at Queen Elizabeth Park. Gary & Paula from Strictly Wheels will be performing a few routines to showcase Wheelchair Dance Sport as part of the Liberty Festival.
Come along to see Gary & Paula performing and have a go at wheelchair dancing. They will be at the performance area at 1pm and again at 2.30pm.
We look forward to seeing you there and celebrating National Paralympic Day 2015. More information on the event can be found here. #NPD2015
This weekend sees Belfast host the UK’s first Disability Pride event. Disability Pride is an organisation that began in Chicago in 2003. It is a parade through the city to celebrate the lives of disabled people and an opportunity to express the accessibility into society of those living with a disability.
Every year since its inception, Disability Pride has asked a new city to join the network, these have been until this year, cities in the USA and Canada. In 2013, Madrid and Berlin joined the network and held their first Disability Parade and now finally the UK has joined in.
The event starts with a parade which begins at 11am followed by a day of celebration in the ‘village’ in front of City Hall with live acts, music, stalls and food.
We’re extremely happy that 2 of our dancers – Paula Moulton and Gary Lyness will be showcasing wheelchair dance sport on the main stage at 2pm.
It’s a great opportunity for people in Northern Ireland to see wheelchair dancing “in the flesh” and Gary is very excited to be dancing in his home country for the first time since taking up the sport.
You can find out more about the event on the Disability Pride website here.
Paula Moulton and Gary Lyness swept to victory on Easter Sunday at the Dutch Open when they won the Amateur Latin title. They also won a Silver Medal in Ballroom the previous day just being pipped to the post by Poland.
It was a fantastic competition and the couple’s third year competing at the Dutch Open. It is the largest wheelchair dance competition of its kind in the world.
Gary said, “It’s very exciting, but daunting to be entering the World Class arena after such a short time, but it is testament to our dedication”.
“We were thrilled to get silver in Ballroom as a great improvement on last year,” said Paula.
With the third win in a row in Amateur Latin they are now set to become the UK’s first Top level competing couple in Latin Wheelchair Dancesport!
Our next competition is closer to home when we compete in an International Wheelchair Dancesport competition held in the UK. The Manchester Grand Prix Wheelchair Dancesport Championship will take place on Sunday 30th June at the Wythenshawe Forum. The city plays host to competitors from at least 10 European nations. Spectators will be able to see the world’s best Wheelchair Dancesport champions in action.
The event was held at The Point, LCC in Manchester and was attended by around 300 invited guests including many Paralympians, the stars of London 2012 and the upcoming athletes and clubs for whom the awards are presented.
Guests were welcomed to a drinks reception before the blinds rose over the room below which looked resplendent in GB colours!
A great meal was enjoyed by all before the real reason for being there commenced; the awards.
Awards were given out to Junior Stars, who will be the future Paralympic talent in years to come. Awards were also presented to “Rising Stars” – athletes who are currently competing and making a difference in their sport and who are set to shine in the next few years and also Clubs who have been making a difference for disabled athletes at all levels.
We are extremely pleased to say that Paula was picked from 100s of nominations to receive a Rising Star award for Wheelchair Dancesport. Paula has been an inspiration to many with her achievements in Wheelchair Dancesport, now holding 5 current international titles in Amateur (Class 2) Latin and Ballroom as well as the current UK Amateur Latin and Ballroom Champion.
Paula with her dance partner Gary Lyness were also thrilled to be able to perform at the awards to showcase Wheelchair Dancesport.
As part of the awards Nationwide contributed £20,000 to be awarded between the rising stars and clubs. This money will support future talent to help them train and grow to become the Paralympians and athletes to the best of their ability.
The event was attended by the Minister for Disabled People – Esther McVey MP; double gold Paralympic medallist Hannah Cockroft, bronze cycling Paralympic medallist Jody Cundy,
silver Paralympic medallist athlete Shelly Woods and bronze swimming Paralympic medallist Natalie Jones.
EFDS Vice President and retired NBA player John Amaechi OBE gave an emotive speech despite his illness saying that professional sports people should be looking to the disabled sports arena for inspritaion on what taking part in a sport really means – the volunteers, inclusiveness and camaraderie is what truly makes “Games Makers”, the core of sport.
Its great to know that dancing really is open to all. Dance has no bounds, age, sex, race, ability, disability the list goes on, but dance can touch every single persons’ lives in some form or another.
The UK has been home to ballroom dancing for as long as anyone can remember and its great that the UK can also be the first to invite the world to its shores for the dance events that are outside the realm of the standard competition.
Manchester held the first International Wheelchair Dancesport competition in the UK in 2011 and we are also pleased the UK will also host the first World Same Sex Championship in Blackpool this coming weekend. We are also honoured that they have asked us to showcase Wheelchair Dancesport at the event, so Gary and Paula aka Strictly Wheels will be performing at the Grand Finals evening at the Winter Gardens. It’s a great opportunity to show another section of the Ballroom Community what we do in wheelchair dance and fantastic to perform in such a great venue.
We wish the Same Sex Open every success and hope they can build on it as we have and keep the Championships going year on year and keep the world coming to the UK for Ballroom Dancing in all its forms.