Dancing and performing has been a part of Sophie’s life since the age of three. Growing up she completed all her vocational dance and drama exams and went onto study Drama at Exeter University where she graduated with a first class honours degree. An applied arts module during her course really affirmed the power the arts have in engaging, stimulating and motivating participants in a truly unique way. During this module she ran workshops in primary schools, a sixth form college, a young offenders secure unit and a pupil referral unit. Whilst working in these very different environments Sophie was struck by the recurring ability for arts activity to engage participants, build confidence, stimulate their focus and creativity whilst developing transferable skills without them even realising it. Seeing this and the outcomes that were produced as a result of such activity confirmed in her mind the power the arts has and she became committed to use performance and arts activity to motivate, excite and stimulate thought.

Over the last seven years she has worked as a freelance dance and drama artist across the UK. Her work has given her the opportunity to work in many different settings and on a variety of projects including running dance and drama sessions for arts companies, schools and theatre schools, performing in Theatre in Education pieces, delivering arts projects to community arts groups, producing drama workshops for Amnesty International, working with companies who provide arts programs for those with disabilities, working on arts projects with young carers and those who have challenging behavior, developing arts projects for asylum seekers, developing solo performance work for UK festivals, performing as a dancer on CBeebies and in the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games and directing professional small scale plays and musicals. Sophie also works with DrugFAM, a charity who use the arts to explore addiction and bereavement including touring across the UK performing in the play ‘Mum Can You Lend Me £20’ and delivering forum theatre workshops in prisons, schools and at conferences and developing the charity’s young people’s bereavement project, which uses arts activities to allow participants who normally find it hard to communicate to share their own story and access their emotions in an innovative but safe way.

On graduation, through Business In The Arts: North West, Sophie also received some mentoring from David Lee, who at the time was the Chair of DanceSyndrome’s board. David introduced Sophie to DanceSyndrome and in 2012 Sophie became a volunteer Dance Artist. From the moment Sophie started to work with DanceSyndrome she knew it was an organisation that had so much potential. One of her first performances for DanceSyndrome was as part of the team that danced at Manchester Town Hall on the One Show for Miranda’s Mad March Comic Relief Challenge. Quoted at the time she said “What a day! It reaffirmed how proud I feel to be a part of a group of dancers whose passion for their art is so evident and highlighted how much of a difference money donated to Comic Relief can make to individuals with a common passion, giving them the opportunity to fulfill their dreams” and this pride is still evident six years later.

In 2013 Sophie was given the role of Lead Artist. Sophie’s role as Lead Artist is integral to the success of DanceSyndrome. She has designed and co-delivers our unique Dance By Example training course which enables people with and without disabilities to become Dance Leaders and to understand how to deliver their own inclusive dance workshops. A variation on this which she has also developed is our Inclusive Approaches Training, which is delivered in schools, universities and business settings to demonstrate how inclusion is important in all areas of life and what people need to consider and adapt to make their practices to become truly inclusive. Sophie also co-leads our Preston workshop alongside Jodie Turner, and this has proven to be one of our most successful workshops, with up to 30 participants on a weekly basis. She oversees the delivery of the other workshops, working with our other Dance Artists to ensure that the workshops remain interesting and engaging for participants and leaders alike. Perhaps the most creative element of Sophie’s role though is her work with our core company of performance artists. Sophie works with the dancers to elicit ideas and choreography for new performance work. She works with the dancers to develop and perfect these ideas creating professional, high quality performance art. Sophie works on all elements of the performance process, from finding funding, organising performances, producing marketing content and of course performing as part of the team herself! Sophie is a skilled inclusive practitioner. She has a genuine intuition that allows her to understand people’s individual needs and a caring nature that means she wants to enable and empower them to overcome any challenges and demonstrate their abilities. Through working for DanceSyndrome, Sophie believes she has seen first hand how powerful the arts can be in stimulating participants, generating a positive mental attitude, increasing confidence, and allowing participants to come out of their shells and discover their own voice; “I have witnessed participants blossom in front of my eyes and I have seen them grow and become strong, independent, confident individuals – the scale of the transformation can’t really be put into words.”

Sophie will be forever grateful for the opportunities the company has given her to develop and grow as a dance artist; “DanceSyndrome will always hold a special place in my heart – working with DanceSyndrome made it all click. I’ll always remember the first time I watched Jen perform her solo to Hallelujah. People always asked me why I loved performing so much and I could never quite find the right words, but seeing Jen perform I realised that you don’t need words. Her performances communicated everything – you could physically see exactly why Jen loved performing so much and I knew that was how it made me feel too – dancing takes you to a place like no other, it makes you feel powerful and invincible, it takes away worries and makes you feel free. Everyone can dance, and everyone should be given the opportunity to feel free.”

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