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The Road Trip (The first day of the Pathways to the Profession symposium) / 1 March 2012

'PATHWAYS TO PROFESSION' was hosted by SCOTTISH DANCE THEATRE at West Park, Dundee on Thursday 19th January 2012

I found it a struggle to get up, I always do, I love my bed, it’s so warm but this morning I was excited. I had already decided what I was wearing and everything was ready. I had a hotel sized cup of tea (they are just the right size for me. I never drink a whole cup, I leave about an inch in the bottom) and I rush downstairs to find the directions.

I didn’t think it was that far so I would walk, as I got to the reception some ladies were getting directions too. They were ever so excited they were in the same mind as me, anticipating what it would be like to be surrounded by our ilk. We walked a bit together until I remembered that I had left my Edirol in the car and I definitely needed that, today I was to interview Mat Fraser.

He’s  a Disabled Artist and he has broken into the mainstream, well he has broken the shell with his egg tooth (strange chicken analogy). He has had performances with Sealboy Freak and Thalidomide. A Musical!! I had to do this interview. So I drove there. Plus I didn’t know how far it was, excuses, excuses.. I just wanted to get there faster.

After not being able to get out of the hotel car park without a code, and going passed the venue, I pulled into the car park of West Park and got met at my car and shown the way to the door. I felt a little bit special that changed (or maybe I felt a different kind of special) when I got stuck in my coat. It’s these mittens I have. I kept losing one (little feeling in one hand so that was fine but I used the other all the time ) so what we did was create a long sausage and sewed it to the mittens, they are not proper mittens if they don’t have a lovely chord! But I do tend to get stuck in my coat when I wear them, which is all of the time, ahhhh the trials and tribulations of mittens, I bet you didn’t even realise.

I head straight for the coffee and pastries, heaven, always the sign of a good event, and no commoners coffee either, real coffee. I look around and spot Adam Benjamin, Paula Hocking and Claire Summers, the inclusive dancers from Plymouth..actually,  inclusive, I think they are integrated as they are all non – disabled (temporarily able bodied (TABS) as my friend Gini calls them) practitioners. I think, please correct me if I’m wrong, that INCLUSIVE is led by a disabled practitioner and a mixed ability class and INTEGRATED is a non-disabled practitioner and a mixed ability class.

Mr Benjamin was one of the founders of the inclusive dance company Candoco, based in London, Paula Hocking is the founder of Wheelfever and doing a speech tomorrow and she is very nervous.

Claire Summers is dancer and workaholic extraordinaire. She can turn her hand to anything and was the Manager of Strictly Collaborative for a long time. Helping to build it to what it is today. She is a star. She works with Adam, Wheelfever and other dance companies in Plymouth. Those guys are doing some great work for inclusive dance. I would love to see inclusive theatre raising its game.

I feel that disabled practitioners in the South West are not being utilised as much as they should, there aren’t many but use us!