Donna trained at Merseyside Dance and Drama Centre where she qualified as a professional dancer and graduated with a dance teacher qualification in Ballet, Tap and Modern with Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) and Royal Academy of Dance (RAD).

Donna has worked as a professional dancer all over the world, working on many production tours and cruise lines. When her daughter was born she decide to concentrate on teaching dance. She became Principal of The Dance Academy UK in 2008 and more recently become Dance Director at Piano, Pies and Pirouettes CIC. This work led to Donna designing a Ballet program specifically for Wigan Warriors working to strengthen any weak, injury prone areas they may have, whilst also building strength and flexibility into muscles and tendons they don’t necessarily use in their usual rugby training.

Donna met DanceSyndrome Founder Jen Blackwell in 2011 and working with Jen and DanceSyndrome has changed her life. She describes how meeting Jen changed her life, “I was practising a routine in my dance studio when a very quiet, shy but poised looking young lady walked through the door with her mum. Little did I know that this beautiful lady would change my life forever.”

Donna is now Jen’s lead carer, though she prefers the term “best buddy”. She is an established Dance Artist for DanceSyndrome, co-delivering dance workshops, training programmes and inspiring presentations with Jen. She is also responsible for designing and delivering DanceSyndrome’s Street Dance and Ballet programmes as well as working with Jen on a one-to-one basis to develop choreography for her solo performances.

Donna’s Dance Artist role also involves working with the DS Collective performance team and she has been privileged to perform with the “dancing family” at many prestigious events, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival twice!

Donna said “Being part of Jen’s life and DanceSyndrome has shown me how to achieve the very best, not just through technique but from the passion within. As Jen’s carer I know that every day can be different. Everyone has their ups and downs but never have I seen such joy, love and passion from a group of people. It is a pure pleasure to work with them. Nothing in the dance world compares to this. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to champion the rights of those with learning disabilities and show the way forward.”

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Donna Wheeldon