A performance under the stars – A Dancestars story

14 March 2019

A Sheffield dance charity that provides support to children with learning disabilities got the chance of a lifetime when they performed at Tuesday night’s football game at Bramall Lane between Sheffield United and Brentford.

At the half-time interval, a group of Dancestars dancers and instructors came out onto the pitch and performed a 4 minute routine in front of the John Street Stand.

ShefNews spoke to Janet Chelliah, 50, a parent who is part of the organisation initially set up by Active Sheffield as part of a scheme by Sheffield City Council in 2013. When the funding from the council stopped in 2016, parents of dancers stepped in.

They sought charity funding from different organisations, resulting in a grant by the South Yorkshire Community Foundation and it’s been running in the ownership of that parent group ever since.

For Janet, her story started six years ago, when her older daughter, Kirsty, who had a learning disability and Melissa, who hadn’t, got involved in the charity.

“A lot of the members there have been there since it started so it’s formed a great friendship group. Everyone’s very supportive of each other, we sit there and watch our kids dancing as well as communicating any issues we have.”

It wasn’t too long ago that Dancestars were being approached themselves, by various events organisers to get a performance from the children. One such highlight was being selected to perform during the opening of the Special Olympics held in Sheffield two years ago, leading up to their performance at Bramall Lane last Tuesday.

“The benefit is,” Janet says. “not just for their confidence or making us parents proud, but to show the general public what kids or young adults with disabilities can do as well as raising awareness.”

Dancestars focuses on pride than performance, as Janet says: “Most dance groups aim for perfection, we don’t, we allow people to perform to their own ability.”

The charity aims to raise awareness for World Down Syndrome Day, as a majority of the young people in the group have down syndrome, by releasing a piece by next week.

They have also put their name forward to Sheffield Children’s Charity Hospital to see if they have any fundraising events, as a lot of the kids have used the hospital in the past, and would be open to giving something back by raising funds in the name of the Hospital Charity.

The group features no age restrictions and have a range of abilities within the group.  They dance every Monday during term-time and often in the school holidays if the venue is open.

They were very keen to raise awareness for their charity, and are looking for organisers to get in contact and collaborate.


Their Twitter handle is: @DancestarsShef1

Their Facebook group is: Dancestars Sheffield

Written by Ash Williams

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