Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Strictly’s Giovanni Pernice named ambassador for DanceSyndrome

The inclusive arts organisation DanceSyndrome has announced that professional dancer Giovanni Pernice, best known for his appearances on Strictly Come Dancing, has become the charity’s ambassador.

Giovanni offered to become an ambassador for the charity after meeting the dancers during filming for the Channel 4 TV show Steph’s Packed Lunch. He was impressed by the inclusive dance setting that the charity had created and wanted to do more to promote their important work.

Giovanni learned about the importance of inclusion in dance while dancing with Rose Ayling-Ellis, who is deaf, in Strictly Come Dancing in 2021. He is now determined to do more to raise the profile of inclusive dance through charitable roles.

He said: “DanceSyndrome’s sessions are exactly what dance is about, having fun and enjoying yourself. Dancing is a way to express yourself using music and everybody has to be allowed to do that, no matter what.

“DanceSyndrome is a beautiful group. I loved meeting everyone. Together they show that, whatever your ability, anyone can and should share in the passion for dancing. I love this message and am proud to be an Ambassador for their incredible work.”

All DanceSyndrome sessions are co-led by people with learning disabilities

DanceSyndrome was founded in 2009 by Jen Blackwell, who has Down’s syndrome. Jen was struck by the lack of opportunities in community dance that were accessible to people with learning disabilities.

So, she created DanceSyndrome, a charity whose ethos is that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams.

All DanceSyndrome sessions are co-led by people with learning disabilities, who take visible Dance Leader roles to inspire people to see what can be achieved when we all become more inclusive.

The charity offers both inclusive dance workshops and leadership training both in communities across the North West and online via Zoom.

“A real boost” for people with disabilities to meet a high-profile professional dancer who understands the importance of inclusivity

DanceSyndrome Managing Director Julie Nicholson said the charity is “thrilled” that Giovanni has agreed to become a DanceSyndrome ambassador.

“Everyone at DanceSyndrome loved meeting Giovanni last year,” she said. “He was so supportive and inclusive in the way that he worked with us, everyone felt really valued. The Dance Leader team was thrilled to hear that they had an equally significant impact on Giovanni too, and that he wanted to do more to support our work.

“Obviously, as a small charity we need a lot of support with fundraising and increasing our profile, but this means so much more to us. Many of our dancers with learning disabilities have faced barriers when trying to access mainstream dance, so it is a real boost for them to meet such a high-profile professional dancer who understands the quality and value of our work. We can’t wait to see where this partnership takes us!”

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