A dance program in Perth is helping people with disabilities to build physical and cognitive strength through movement, but for Lauren Marchbank it is simply about doing what she loves.
“I have been dancing since I was five,” the 22-year-old said.
“Dancing in general, I just feel like I’m more myself.”
Ms Marchbank, who has Down Syndrome, is part of the dance troupe Tracksuit, for adults with a disability, mental health issue or social exclusion.
“We’ve got some dance background in my dad’s family, so I dance,” Ms Marchbank said.
“I’ve got a lot of personality … I just want to share with them, just who I am really, and that’s kind of why I dance. “It just makes me feel free and happy.”
Tracksuit is in its seventh year, and the group of about 10 dancers meets once a week to explore dance through movement, gameplay and improvisation.
“The benefits to the dancers are fantastic,” artistic director Paige Gordon said.
“They range from the physical, to the cognitive, to just the emotional wellbeing of coming together regularly.
“We’ve had professional dancers in here trying to replicate some of those movements … and it’s next to impossible.
“I think that’s a really nice way to celebrate the diversity of movement.”
The dancers developed their own ideas, rehearsed and fine-tuned a performance over four months.
Family, friends and the community were invited to attend two end-of-year shows.
Ms Marchbank’s mother and father, Bill and Beth Marchbank, were in the audience.
“People with or without disabilities have a range of talents and they can actually work together,” Mrs Marchbank said.
“People don’t have to be separated out because of their particular level of ability.”
Mr Marchbank said programs such as Tracksuit were vital to ensure dancers with a disability were able to participate in the mainstream performance industry.
“She’s [my daughter] got a lot to share,” he said.
“It’s finding the avenues I suppose, to enable her to express herself and this program is certainly one of those.”
The program, facilitated by the not-for-profit organisation Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts WA (DADAA) and presented by Act-Belong-Commit, continues next year.