Festivals

Like many good things, wheelchair dancing, for the cerebral palsied, was started by accident at one of the Spastic Society's schools, now known as Capability Scotland in Scotland and Scope in England.  It grew out of a lesson devised to assist new wheelchair users to learn how best to cope with their new means of locomotion.

At first they tried the simpler and slower dances, such as the Gaelic Waltz but as the dancers learnt to spin their partners and to control the speed and direction of their wheelchair in time to the music, more dances were added to the list until fast and complicated dances such as the Virginia Reel were being regularly enjoyed.

In 1970 the first Wheelchair Dance Festival was decided upon.  With the help of Mrs. S.M. Murphy, Lecturer in dance at the Chelsea School of Human Movement, Brighton Polytechnic and with the permission of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, sets of dances were arranged.

The first festival was held in April 1971 at the Hammersmith Palais, loaned by Mrs. E. Morley of Mecca Promotions.   Ten teams competed – adults and juniors – classified into A and B mobility.  The A section – for dancers who had good hand/arm and chair control.  The B section – for dancers with poor hand/arm and wheelchair control, power chairs or foot propelled chairs.  Dances were set and all teams had to compete in dances in their sections.

Since 1971 the festivals have changed format.  Besides set dances – known as Team Championship dances, there are sections where dances are made to a team's own choice of music such as formation, novelty, PHAB format, ballroom, PHAB couples and freestyle.  Regional festivals, organised by the Regional Committee and British Championship festivals organised by the National Executive Committee are held on alternate years.

The Wheelchair Dance Association was formed in 1974.  Officers are elected to stand for three years (in rotation) at the Annual General Meeting.  There is an annual subscription under two categories of membership i.e. Team or Associate.  Funds raised contribute to postage and organisation of the festival.  A bio-annual newsletter is sent to all members in every non British Championship year.

Classification

  • A Section – The majority of the team to have good hand shoulder and chair control.
  • B Section – The majority of the team to have poor hand, shoulder and chair control.
  • C Section – The majority of the team to have sever disability and poor chair control.

Age Groupings – Juniors defined as still at school. 
All other adult.

The classification and age grouping will be decided according to the majority of the team.

  1. All dancers should be assessed annually.  Dancers must be assessed in the chair they will use when competing.  Any change of chair requires re-assessment.  Individual annual assessments must be brought to all Festivals.
  2. A person may only dance in one team category throughout a particular section but that section may be higher or lower than their own provided that the majority rule is not broken.
  3. All dancers must dance according to their classification except when dancing at a higher or lower level in team events,  when the majority rule applies.
  4. A dancer may only compete within one team.
  5. Wheelchair dancing is open to any person who is unable to dance for up to five minutes without the aid of a wheelchair in conventional dancing.
  6. A team can only enter one Regional Festival.
  7. Only paid up members may enter the Festival.
  8. No coaching or verbal directions from the sidelines.
  9. Under no circumstances should anyone enter the floor whilst dancing is in progress, except in the interest of the safety of the dancers, i.e. If a dancer falls whilst dancing they may be assisted.

Only the first performance of the dance will be judged unless any of the following apply:

  • The wrong music is played.
  • There is a mechanical failure of equipment or chair.
  • Circumstances occur which are beyond the dancer's control.

If there is only onbe team entered in any one section, a mark of 75% must be gained before the trophy can be awarded.

Under the emergency ruling, in team dances, an able bodied person may compete in a festival substituting a wheelchair dancer if the wheelchair dancers cancels for any reason two weeks or less prior to the festival.  Referee to be informed in writing of any substitution prior to the dance performance.

If a team leader dances with his/her team, this informatio  must be disclosed to the judges for their consideration prior to the festival and should also be notified on the team application form.

Team Championship

  • Number of dances to be decided by the Executive Committee with the exception of C Mobility who will dance one dance only.
  • Minimum number in team is six, no maximum.
  • Teams may only substitute a miximum of two dancers.

Novelty and Formation

  • One dance only using own music and choreography.
  • Time limit – minimum three minutes, maximum five minutes.
  • Minimum number in team is six, no maximum
  • Formation – must have a least one change of tempo.
  • Novelty – props allowed – anything goes!

PHAB Team Formation

  • One dance only using own music and choreography.
  • Time limit – minimum three minutes, maximum five minutes.
  • Minimum number in team is three, no maximum but the number of able-bodied dancers must not outnumber the wheelchair dancers.
  • All categories may dance as a team.

National Dance

  • Should be a completely new dance with own choreography and a compulsory change of costume.
  • Time limit – minimum three minutes, maximum five minutes.
  • Minimum number in team is six, no maximum.

Ballroom Couples

  • Number of dances and music to be decided by the Executive Committee with the exception of C Mobility who will dance one dance only
  • The music for A, B and C mobility shall be no longer than two minutes.
  • Couples to dance at hgiher grading if individuals grading are different.
  • A maximum of three couples may dance at any one time.

PHAB Couples

  • This is for couples where one partner is able-bodied and dances on their feet, the other disabled dances in a wheelchair.
  • Number of dances and music to be decided by Executive Committee with the exception of C Mobility who will dance one dance only.
  • The music for A, B and C mobility  shall be no longer than two minutes.
  • The classification shall be applicable to the wheelchair dancer assessed ability.
  • The couple will be expected to move about the dance floor in a manner appropriate to the dance and classification.
  • An able-bodied dancer may only compete with one partner.
  • A maximum of three couples may dance at any one time.

Novice

Only teams who have not taken part in a festival can enter this section.

British Championship Festivals

These festivals are open to all affiliated teams and individuals.

Festival Judges

Regional Festivals – Three judges required.  Where possible they should be one from each region and be either current teachers of A, B or C mobility groupings or participants in wheelchair dancing.

British Championship Festivals – Three judges required.  Where possible at least one from each region.  They must have judged a minimum of three times at regional level or must have had a minimum of six years experience of wheelchair dancing.

 
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Downloads

Please download our introduction booklets here:

Dances

Introduction 1

Introduction 2