Empower in Motion: bringing together dancers of all abilities for an inspirational evening of inclusivity

Written by Lexi Heselwood on 18th March 2024

This year Children Today is celebrating 30 years of supporting disabled children and young adults. In that time we’re proud to have changed the lives of thousands of UK families with your unwavering support.

We launched our year of festivities with a celebratory inclusive ballet gala – Empower in Motion, uniting dancers of all abilities to highlight the importance of inclusivity in front of an audience of 1,400 people.



On the 7th February disabled and non-disabled dancers took to the stage at the prestigious (and more importantly accessible) Sadler’s Well theatre in London, to tell a moving and inspiring story of unity, resilience and the transformative power of art.

Hosted by our patron, Grace Spence-Green, the evening featured an exhilarating programme of amazing inclusive dance companies Stopgap Dance Company; Propel Dance; Parable Dance; icandance and National Youth Ballet (All In! Performance Company collaboration), alongside stars of the English National Ballet, The Royal Ballet School and ballet royalty Maria Kochetkova and Daniil Simkin.


Stopgap’s performance of Tight Textures © Ryan Browne /J36 Photography


It was a night like no other, showcasing classical favourites including Le Corsaire, Romeo and Juliet and The Snow Queen, married with contemporary and thought-provoking pieces, like Reunion danced by Alice Bellini of the English National Ballet and wheelchair dancer, Denecia Allen.


First Artist at English National Ballet Alice Bellini and Denecia Allen from inclusive dance company icandance performing Reunion  at the Empower in Motion © Ryan Browne /J36 Photography


A major highlight of the evening was Joseph Powell-Main’s world premiere. Joe trained at the Royal Ballet School for four years, but sadly had to leave RBS after sustaining injuries that led him to acquire a disability. He gave up dance for three years but rekindled his passion through wheelchair Latin and ballroom dance classes, which led to him becoming a Para-dance champion and returning to ballet as the first wheelchair and crutch using company dancer for Ballet Cymru.

His self-choreographed solo piece performed at Empower in Motion, Passionately Defiant, explores his personal journey back to dance. Joe says:

“I wanted to get across that disability doesn’t mean you can’t do something. It means the opposite, you just have your own unique journey to get to your destination.

“I feel that my journey to becoming a dancer has been quite rebellious in a sense as I have had to deal with many people saying no, but I tried my best to keep on going. Using that as motivation to hopefully prove people wrong.

“I believe and hope that Empower In Motion has opened up conversations about how dance can be shown and represented in different ways, showcasing all abilities. The gala was hugely important to show that equipment such as wheelchairs and walking aids are important to provide opportunities and have such a huge positive impact on each individual. I know first-hand how important my wheelchair and crutches are to me. Hopefully this event has shown that there is a need for more events like this for further fundraising.”


Joe Powell-Main wowed the audience with his solo performance of Passionately Defiant © Ryan Browne /J36 Photography


Our charity director Emma Prescott, adds:

Empower in Motion is just the beginning! It’s a celebration of movement and inclusion, focussing on what is possible and breaking down boundaries. Many of those who performed at Empower in Motion could never have dreamed of performing at an event of this scale, let alone alongside some of the world’s most distinguished dancers.

“We are incredibly grateful to all those who took part and of course to our generous donors and sponsors who made it possible, especially the main sponsor The Buffini Chao Foundation.”

View full gallery of images from Empower in Motion!