Passionate about inclusive dance, Rashmi Becker established Step Change Studios to address the lack of opportunities for disabled people to participate. She had been volunteering at numerous charities to perform and engage people in dance in residential care homes, community centres and events but when she tried to find regular opportunities for people to participate she struggled. So Step Change Studios was born, providing dance for different ages and abilities. In just one year, almost 1,000 people have danced with Step Change Studios ' many for the first time.
Every December, Rashmi performs to the 1,000 special guests of the Mayor of Westminster at the annual glittering tea dance at the Grosvenor Park Lane. Guest enjoy high tea and professional dance entertainment. Having worked with Age UK in West London and had such an enthusiastic response to dance, Step Change Studios teamed up with the charities Sense, and Open Age to launch a special 9-week programme to provide older people an opportunity to create a 'Strictly' ballroom performance piece to premier at the Grosvenor. People with sensory impairments were particularly encouraged.
In a short space of time, the group went from being apprehensive, cautious and completely new to dance, to energetic, focused, dancers showing off their new found waltz, cha cha, and foxtrot skills in one of Park Lane's finest ballrooms. The floor was lit up with their smiles and the group received a rapturous round of applause from the audience. As well as being a memorable experience for the dancers, their performance was a reminder of the spirit and creativity that dance captures, no matter what age or experience level.
As well as enabling people to dance Step Change Studios is committed to advocating for more inclusive dance opportunities. Platforms such as the tea dance are a fantastic way of leading by example, and collaborations between like-minded partners open up new creative ideas and avenues that benefit the wider community.
Step Change Studios works with Age UK in partnership with local health organisations, and charities to support people to be active through dance. Throughout 2018 Step Change Studios is running a free weekly ballroom class supported by the National Lottery in partnership with London Vision for people with visual impairments. For details visit: www.stepchangestudios.com