Magpie Dance – Flying high after 30 years

In 2015, Bromley-based charity Magpie Dance – which Re:locate has supported for the last three years – celebrates its 30th anniversary, having grown from small beginnings to deliver high-quality dance experiences for children and adults with learning disabilities, both nationally and internationally.

Magpie Dance
Avril Hitman, founder and artistic and executive director, explains how the organisation continues to evolve and how you can be involved in its work.Magpie's programmes fall into three strands: participation, performance and training. Our mission is 'unlocking individual potential and ability, to be at the forefront of dance for people with learning disabilities'.2015 marks 30 years of delivering inclusive dance to thousands of people with learning disabilities, their support networks, and audiences in venues such as the Southbank Centre, Sadler's Wells, the Royal Albert Hall, Canterbury's Gulbenkian Theatre, and many others across London, the region and the UK.Magpie's method is about not a one-size-fits-all approach but a realisation of the potential that exists in each individual person to develop their skills way beyond the expected.In our anniversary year, there have been two notable leaps forward in programme delivery, relating to participation/performance as well as training. To mark its 30th year, Magpie performed Flying High at Sadler's Wells and the Gulbenkian Theatre. The evening of dance profiled the youth and adult dancers and the newly launched Highfliers, a training and performance programme for exceptional dancers with learning disabilities.The Highfliers initiative raises the bar of expectation while providing dancers with comprehensive opportunities to access and reach for a career in dance. The evening marked their first performance on a professional stage. Theodora Munroe, a writer for online magazine The Upcoming, applauded the performance, saying, "A jewel amid a sea of contemporary art companies, Magpie Dance's Flying High needs to be showcased in every town and city in the country. It will capture your imagination, and seize your heart and mind forever."

Building diverse and inclusive teams

As part of Magpie's training programme, a new approach to teambuilding, designed for corporations large and small, is being offered. The innovative training focuses on ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce, improving communication at work, and realising the potential of individuals. Workshops can last anywhere between two hours and a day, are held in a location close to the organisation or to Magpie's base, and are led by two experienced facilitators, with live music.Workshops catering to the needs of corporate organisations are the latest strand in Magpie's training programme; the specially made training model, rooted in the methods and approaches of inclusive practice, has received positive feedback from recent business clients.One participant commented, "Highly insightful on how to use non-verbal communication ... Made me look at how we interact and adjust around other people and how I can have a voice/choice without fear."Workshops are bespoke to each client. Once we know the required length and location of a session, we are happy to provide a quote.Magpie is proud to share achievements across all strands of its work, none of which would be possible without investment from charities and trusts and donations. In order for the organisation to grow and flourish, more than £300,000 must be raised annually without regular funding – an extraordinary achievement over 30 years.
We are grateful for the investment each year from a variety of sources so that Magpie Dance can continue to benefit people who are disadvantaged by disability.We are excited to develop more opportunities that unlock further potential and ability – for another 30 years and beyond.For details of Magpie's performances, workshops for business clients, or opportunities for investment in the 30th anniversary year, visit or call +44(0)208290 6633.Keep checking the charity section of the Re:locate website for further information on supporting Magpie Dance.

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