About Us

Established in 2009, DanceSyndrome was the inspiration of founder and Creative Director, Jen Blackwell, who has Down’s syndrome, and wanted to follow her dream of being a dancer and dance leader.

Jen went to mainstream school and whilst there she realised how much she loved to dance and decided that she wanted to become a community dance worker. After leaving school Jen found herself in the frustrating position of not being able to fulfil her ambition because there was no suitable dance training for a person with a learning disability. After 10 years of unsuccessfully searching for training that was appropriate and inclusive it became clear that many others were in the same situation. Something needed to change and Jen and her parents took matters into their own hands. They formed DanceSyndrome in 2009 and it was registered as a charity in 2013.

Our team strives to continue to provide new and exciting opportunities for people who may otherwise be excluded from mainstream dance. We believe that everyone has the right to follow their own interests and passions – whether they have a disability or not. We work with learning-disabled and non-disabled company members, and we provide inclusive dance and leadership opportunities for people who believe disability need not be a barrier to living life to the full.

All our dance activity is led and informed by people with learning disabilities. DanceSyndrome activities give people confidence, respect, value and self-belief through our philosophy of ‘anything is possible even though you have a learning disability’.

Our Vision is Simple

To empower people with learning disabilities through inclusive dance.

Our Charitable Objective is:

To advance education in the art of dance for the public benefit, in particular (but not exclusively) for people with learning disabilities.

Our Mission

To be a sustainable & environmentally responsible leading community role model that provides high quality inclusive dance leadership, participation, performance and training opportunities for both people with learning disabilities and non-disabled individuals and our company of dancers.

Our core values are embedded within our mission statement:

  • Inclusion & equality
  • Collaboration
  • Artistic excellence

Our Strategy – Vision 2030

A visual showing the DanceSyndrome strategy Vision 2030. The key aims are: To be recognised as a North-West Leader in co-produced & co-delivered inclusive dance. To create a pathway of opportunities from early years to adulthood. To develop a best practice model that others can replicate across the UK which embeds our values, maintains our quality & delivers on our mission to empower people with learning disabilities.

Our Artistic Vision

A visual of our Artistic Vision

Our Delivery Strands

As part of the Vision 2025 strategy, we deliver our work in three different strands:

A group of dancers in the communityCommunity

  • Weekly Everybody Dance Classes (in-person and on Zoom)
  • Weekly Technique Classes (in-person and on Zoom)
  • Commissioned Classes & Workshops
  • Outreach and Mass Participation Events
  • Dance by Example Dance Leadership Training
  • ‘Everybody Dance’ Social Replication Model/DanceSyndrome Approved Provider Kitemark  (In Development)

The DanceSyndrome team performing on stagePerformance

  • DS Collective Performance Company
  • Dance Leader Professional Development Programme (Progression Pathways,
    Tailored Dance Development, Masterclasses & Life Skills)
  • DS Youth Collective (Company of Youth Dancers)
  • Dance Sector Partnerships (In Development)
  • Dance Accreditation (In Development)

The DanceSyndrome team delivering inclusion training Inclusion

  • “Breaking Down Barriers” Workshop (for dancers in training/education, community dance artists, dance teachers in traditional dance settings)
  • “Inclusion in Action” Workshop (for Businesses, Universities, Colleges & Schools)
  • DanceSyndrome Consultancy (In Development)

Our Team

Jen Blackwell

Founder & Director

Peter Pamphlett

Dance Leader & Director

Malcolm Blackwell

Chair of Board of Trustees

Julie Nicholson

Managing Director

Sophie Tickle

Artistic Director

Sarah Calderbank

Communications Manager

Sam Millar

Fundraising & Grants Manager

Rachel Coupe

Community Outreach Manager

Grace Bell

Project Coordinator

Kate Battersby

Mentoring Manager