Dance is often though as of one of the occupations most closed off to those with disabilities, but people like Kate Stanforth are campaigning to ensure this is no longer the case.
Dedicated to helping disabled people experience more and achieve their dreams – especially in the performing arts sector – Kate’s Academy of Dance has recently gained sponsorship from Allied Mobility, a provider of wheelchair access vehicles.
What is the Kate Stanforth Academy of Dance?
Kate Stanforth is a dance teacher, disability activist, PR manager, charity founder, and model from Northumberland. A gifted ballet dancer from an early age, she became unwell at age 14 with chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME) and subsequently Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Vasovagal Syncope and MCAD. These chronic conditions left her unable to continue her ballet career.
Yet, that wasn’t the end of dancing for Kate. Six years after first becoming unwell, she began teaching again, becoming an associate ballet teacher and passing her exams with distinction. She has since returned to dance herself using her wheelchair, appearing in adverts as a dance model for the likes of Channel 4, the BBC, Kappa, Sainsbury’s, and George Asda.
In March 2020, Kate began hosting free weekly classes online, and after teaming up with gymnast Craig Heap and YouTuber Demi Donnelly, launched the Kate Stanforth Academy of Dance in September, providing classes from JLJ Studios in Ryton, Tyne and Wear.
Primarily providing verbal instruction, as well as showing smaller movements, Kate’s classes include an inclusive dance class for people aged 14 and over, as well as an advanced technique class with PBT (progressing Ballet Technique).
Allied Mobility’s sponsorship
Allied Mobility are sponsoring Friday classes at the Kate Stanforth Academy of Dance until the end of the year. It’s hoped that, with their help, Kate can reach even more disabled dancers, as well as those that have never had the chance to dance.
With their help, and Kate’s unyielding efforts, she can continue her goal of widening representation and opportunity for people with chronic conditions, as well as building a community for disabled dancers.
Speaking to Chronical Live in 2020, Kate said: “I still feel like there’s ignorant people towards disability, and they are not sure how to approach people […] The need for disabled models has definitely increased since I started but I like brands who cast models for their talents rather than just for their disability. I was chosen to go to Miami for my most recent campaign for my dancing and Sainsbury’s picked me through charity work not just because I’m disabled.”
You can learn more about the Kate Stanforth Academy of Dance here, as well as how you can help the academy achieve its goal of highlighting and disability issues.