Strictly Sarah: Get your cha cha on with Step Change Studios at Liberty

Sarah LeComber (45) who has Down’s Syndrome and a learning disability has been on quite a journey this year when her dancing dreams came true.

Sarah is a huge fan of BBC’s Strictly and has loved watching the show since it began. “Ever since the show came onto our screens it has been my ambition to take part in a dance competition. So I couldn’t believe it when East Thames announced they were holding their very own Strictly event.”

The social care provider East Thames had approached Rashmi Becker, Founder of Step Change Studios, a pioneering inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance company, to support a Strictly-style dance competition for people it supports.

Sarah remembers: “In my first lesson with Step Change Rashmi asked me what song I would like to dance to and why. That was easy to answer, I chose ‘That’s Life’ by Frank Sinatra because it was my dad’s favourite song. Sadly, he passed away so I wanted to honour his memory with this dance. I wear a locket containing his photo which brings me inspiration.”

“Rashmi and my dance instructor and partner Nuno supported me to learn a fun and beautiful foxtrot.

“They would record what I had learned so I could practice it before my next lesson. They made the routine comfortable and easy for me to remember and I loved the whole experience. I also had support from a family friend outside the dance lessons which I really appreciated.”

After just six lessons, Sarah took to the stage in front of a full house at Stratford theatre and danced her heart out. She won wide praise from the judging panel who were impressed by her confidence, personality, and her storytelling – they couldn’t believe she had never danced before.

Rashmi said: “Sarah was such a dedicated student. She would arrive early for her lessons raring to go. She had been practicing hard in between each lesson, and her passion and commitment were inspiring. The dedication of her support staff was also amazing as they constantly encouraged her in lessons and helped her practice and prepare for the competition. They were cheering her on at the competition and you could feel the pride in the room after her performance. Sarah’s father would have been proud of her.

“I found the whole experience very moving. We had fantastic support from Wayne MacGregor and Motivate East who provided rehearsal space and I commend East Thames for having the vision to provide such a wonderful opportunity for people it supports.”

Sarah will be performing her foxtrot to Frank Sinatra at the Liberty Festival, which will be followed by a free inclusive Latin-ballroom dance taster session run by Step Change Studios. Sarah said: “I have been practicing my performance and am really looking forward to dancing at the Olympic Park. I really enjoyed my dancing journey with Rashmi and Nuno and often talk fondly of them and am grateful for their support. I am looking forward to lots more dancing and I would love to enter more dance competitions in future.”

Sarah will be performing at Liberty at 1.30pm followed by a free 30-minute dance taster session for everyone. Rashmi and Nuno will be on hand to answer questions and provide advice for anyone interested in dancing. 

Step Change Studios is committed to making dance accessible to everyone and offer fun, engaging opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to dance, perform and compete.

They run weekly open classes in London and also deliver dance in education, care and community settings. They can also create special, tailored events such as Strictly-style competitions and performances. For details visit: www.stepchangestudios.com email: contact@stepchangestudios.com

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