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Uganda: disability dance company looks to make a splash

A newly formed inclusive dance company for dancers with some form of disability has performed at Uganda’s contemporary Tuzinne dance festival in Kampala.

Called SPLASH DC, the new company features amputees, some confined to wheelchairs and others without a disability, and is the brainchild of CMS mission partner, Helen Burningham.

Ahead of Disabilities Day on 3 December, Burningham explained her vision to use dance to help people with disabilities overcome the challenges they face.

Jeseph Tebandeke

“Starting an inclusive dance company has been on my mind. Every day I see young people on the streets of Kampala sitting in wheelchairs or on the floor looking up and reaching their hand for any penny that someone may drop. The sight of so much need inspired me to form SPLASH DC, a place where I hope our performers can find dignity and others may see the talent and worth they each possess.”

SPLASH DC’s modus operandi is to integrate dancers with and without disabilities. Burningham explains: “Each person adds their own contribution to the group, bringing a collective statement of equality regardless of difference. Together, we are more than the sum of our individual talents and with just one person missing the splash would not be as impactful. Our performances act as a role model for the integration and inclusion of people with disabilities, leaving Uganda with a refreshing ‘Splash’.”

Burningham drew special attention to a young dancer called Joseph and the special impact SPLASH DC can have on young lives. “Joseph has had many challenges but his positive outlook overrides his circumstances. He thrives on stage and is a role model for both people with and without disabilities.”

The theme of this year’s Tuzinne festival was ‘where human rights dance’ and following the performance, members of the audience were moved to say; “The choreography spoke for itself”, “This was the first of its kind I had seen in Kampala and it’s enlightening”, while another said, “A SPLASH indeed – you rock, you guys have got the skills, you were just so confident.”

More than just setting up the dance company, Burningham is keen to ensure its commercial sustainability and consequently has enrolled on a business course to learn the importance of planning, marketing and value proposition that will help her build a sustainable business.

In addition to her other commitments Burningham has written and published the Dance Teachers Handbook, which outlines kinaesthetic ways [learning through physical activities] of supporting learning in literacy and maths as well as providing inclusive teaching methods for all learners.

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