Unlimited Impact and People Dancing

Sean Goldthorpe photographing People Dancing
Sean Goldthorpe photographing People Dancing

Photographer Sean Goldthorpe has been working with People Dancing, the foundation for community dance, as part of project supported by Unlimited Impact. Together, Sean and People Dancing have been creating a series of images based on iconic dance moments, placing disabled people at the heart of participation in dance and its global popularity. These images will form a photographic exhibition entitled ’11 Million Reasons’, which aims to deliver a positive message about disabled people and dance across the country.

Sean shared some thoughts on his experience of the project.

How did you feel when you found out you’d got the commission?
I was over the moon to find out I had been selected for the commission. I’m excited to be making something for an exhibition and, more importantly, excited to be involved in such a creative and rewarding project!

How do you feel about labels in general – so ‘disabled’ photographer, ‘young’ photographer?
I don’t believe the labels really have much of an effect on me – there’s nothing that can be done about either one. Everyone is young at some point, and I don’t think being labelled disabled should matter when doing anything creative and artistic.

What do you hope your involvement with this exhibition will achieve for you?
I hope that being involved with this project helps me to grow as a photographer, learn new things, meet new people, and create some wonderful work with wonderful people.

What has gone right so far on the shoots… and what has gone wrong?
The team have been fantastic, with everyone helping out wherever they can – holding lights, dancers, hose pipes, all sorts. Though it has been very cold!


Louise Wildish, Producer (dance, Deaf and disabled people) of People Dancing, explains the concept of ’11 Million Reasons’, and the motivation behind the piece.

The idea is so funny, quirky and relevant – who came up with it and how?
It came out of a discussion with my colleagues at People Dancing. We were revisiting aims and vision, and discussing the importance to our organisation of ‘de-segregating’ our programmes for and about Deaf and disabled dancers from all our other activities. We wanted a campaign that was public-facing, that reached far and wide, that was more than a poster campaign, that engaged Deaf and disabled people in high art, both as the participant – as ‘people dancing’ – and as the viewer. We wanted something that engaged and resonated with people – not just within the dance sector, but beyond. And that was when we started to unpack the impact that iconic moments of dance in films had on people’s perception of dance, and how they inspired people to dance.

What do you hope this exhibition will achieve?
Within the high quality images, some of the pictures have a message or political context, and some are fun or a bit tongue-in-cheek, and represent the dancers during moments in time. We want this exhibition to show people dancing in all their diversities, and to place Deaf and disabled people dancing at the heart of participation. The exhibition has the potential to reach far and wide across the UK and to challenge the perception of people who dance and have a disability. We want to open up those conversations and take Deaf and disabled dancers into communities across the UK.

How would you like audiences to respond to the work?
We hope people see the work as innovative, exciting, and as a platform to start discussions. We hope that Deaf and disabled people see this work as something to be inspired by, to feel empowered to dance and to feel a sense of belonging within the dance community. I want the public to see the pictures and like them for their art, to feel warmth and inspiration, to question their own thoughts on how they view disabled and Deaf dancers, and ultimately to support a change in the way we view disability.

Sean Goldthorpe arranges members of People Dancing for a photograph

Sean Goldthorpe arranges members of People Dancing for a photograph

People Dancing are aiming to develop the photos from this project into an exhibition that will tour between 2015 and 2017, but they need your support. Find out more about how your donation could help by clicking here.


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