In celebration of World Down’s Syndrome day, we are showcasing some of the best talent in the wide and wonderful world of the arts.
The Greatest Dancer Andrew
Diversity on UK screens has been ever-increasing over the past few years, and January got off to a great start after a contestant with Down’s syndrome on new dance competition The Greatest Dancer wowed the arena audience and TV viewers alike.
Freestyle dancer Andrew stole the show with his routine to Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling enough to win the audience support and the get the judges on their feet to see him progress to the next round.
21-year-old Andrew’s audition played out as the showstopping finale to the series’ debut show which sees dancers begin their audition in a studio in front of a mirrored wall, with the wall opening to reveal the stage once 75% of the studio audience have voted the act through, with Strictly professional Oti Mabuse, Glee and Broadway star Matthew Morrison and Cheryl Tweedy as captains.
The Strictly Come Dancing superfan found his feet after watching the BBC One show at 11 and began to imitate the dances in front of the TV alerting his mum to his talent, with him now chasing The Greatest Dancer’s top prize of a cool £50,000 and the chance to perform on Strictly. After soaring through the initial audition, Andrew was greeted by floods of compliments from the judges, ending up starstruck by Matthew and Oti with his mum citing Strictly and Glee as his all-time favourite shows.
“Andrew you are amazing!” Jonnie Peacock’s Strictly partner Oti told the self-taught dancer in front of the arena.
“You’re the total showman and once the mirrors opened, you were a whole different person!”
Following leaving to a rapturous applause, a speechless Andrew struggled to find the words, just managing to tell the camera, “I loved it! I loved it!”
Ups and Downs Theatre Group
Hamilton-based theatre group Ups and Downs showcases the performance skills and showmanship of local young people with Down’s syndrome through their numerous musical performances. Starting in 1995 by school teachers George Barclay, Elaine Kirkwood and Theresa McKinnon, the company now has over 75 performers involved.
The triple threat of singing, dancing and acting allowed the group to put on awe-inspiring performances ahead of World Down’s Syndrome Day. The troupe performed Take 24 last week at the Hamilton Town House.
To keep up to date and to secure tickets to their show next year, visit their website.
Heart & Sold
Heart & Sold don’t only put the spotlight on artists with Down’s syndrome from all over the world – they sell their work too.
Inspired by the birth of her son Max who has Down’s syndrome, director and founder Suzie Moffat said: “My reaction and instinct was to combine my interest and experience in the arts with meeting talented individuals with the condition.
“I discovered there were artists all over the world with Down’s syndrome and was determined that their work should be more widely celebrated.
“Plans began for a small ‘pilot’ exhibition at my local Arts Festival in Cheshire, England, which was really well received. Visitors commented on the quality of the art, the professional way in which it had been marketed, the overall high standard of the exhibition. This was thanks to Matt Maurer, Director at Mr.M and my husband and photographer, Paul Moffat.”
The website continued with: “We want to give artists with Down’s Syndrome, as well as their family and friends, an opportunity to use Heart & Sold as a platform – to create, educate, inspire, sell and most importantly change the sometimes wrong perception towards art created by those with a disability or a condition.”
The website details testimonials for their artists, reports from previous exhibitions and a shop to snap up some of the phenomenal talent on sale.
Images: BBC, Ups and Down’s, Heart & SoldGet your copy of PosAbility Magazine