Laura’s Paralympics experience

I’ve had an amazing time over the past few months working as a Dance Captain for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games. My role involved working with the 10 other dance captains, alongside Kevin Finnan and Helen Parlour, to create the choreography for all the dance sections of the ceremony and then teach the moves to roughly 3500 volunteers!

It was very daunting turning up on the first day in March to a gigantic room, the small group of dance captains feeling totally dwarfed by it, and even more daunting knowing that it wouldn’t be that long before that room would be full of groups of up to 300 people at a time that we would be teaching the routines to!

June 26th seemed to come around very quickly, bringing with it the start of teaching the volunteers!  Everyone was welcome, and we had a real cross section of the public, not only age wise, 10 to 80, but also ranging from those with lots of dance experience, who have worked professionally as dancers, to those who were self confessed owners of 2 left feet!  They were so many inspiring stories, each of them had their own reasons for being there and journeys that they would go through.  Some people were there in the memory of a loved one, some as a challenge to themselves, some to gain new skills and experiences, to make new friends, everyone with a passion to fulfil, their enthusiasm and commitment was abundant.

I got particularly close to my Gravity group of skaters and wheelchair dancers.  Working with them was quite a different experience to working with other groups as this was a much smaller, more intimate group of only 45! (I never thought I would be describing teaching a group of over 40 as small!) There is certainly something thrilling about seeing a whole room moving as people whizz round on a combined total of something like 272 wheels!  It was great to lead the process from the beginning as they all got to know each other and understand how different people moved, through to pairing people up and as we collectively created a striking duet that was performed together.  Finding as many different variations as there were pairs, each pair with their own personality and different wheel formations/bodies/experience to cater for, harnessing each person’s individuality that was brought together in unity.

For all the groups it was fantastic to see the development going from the choreography we had created, to teaching it to the volunteers in the massive studios in 3 Mills, that suddenly seemed small when compared to the size of the 1:1 space at Dagenham and then the stadium itself.

I never lost the buzz of being in the stadium and looking up at all the seating, and thinking about how many people there and across the world would be watching and knowing the hard work and dedication that everyone put in to get there.  It really did feel like being part of a enormous family and it was an honour to be such a big part of people’s summer.

Laura Jones

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