International acclaim for pioneering dance company

Hannah Dempsey and Daisy Garrett perform their duet, The Reflection
Hannah Dempsey and Daisy Garrett perform their duet, The Reflection
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Members of Anjali Dance Company have taken part in an international seminar on Arts and Disability in Mexico.

Anjali is an internationally known group of talented dancers with learning disabilities, based at Banbury’s Mill Arts Centre.

The company was invited by the British Council to take part in a four-day seminar on Arts and Disability in Mexico City, where it was presented as an outstanding example of what has been achieved in disability arts in the UK.

Banbury’s former MP and long-time Anjali supporter Sir Tony Baldry described the visit as “a stunning achievement”.

Founder and artistic director Nicole Thomson spoke to an audience of people working in disability arts about Anjali’s experience as one of the first learning-disabled dance companies.

Nicole spoke about the barriers Anjali had to overcome to enable learning-disabled people to participate in dance and the arts in the UK and be taken seriously as performing artists.

Anjali dancers Hannah Dempsey and Daisy Garrett won a standing ovation for their duet, The Reflection, which was the main performance of the four-day event.

Nicole said: “We were delighted to be asked to take part in such a significant event and share our 25 years’ experience of learning-disabled dance with artists and policy-makers in Mexico.

“A trip to an international disability arts seminar in Mexico is also a very significant event for our dancers because it recognises and acknowledges their talent, professionalism and many years of hard work.”

The organisers want Anjali to take part in two more festivals in Mexico later this year.

This summer, dependent on funding, Anjali will tour a new double bill, called Genius, to 11 UK venues.