UAE dance troupe to compete in Paris in celebration of inclusivity

The 19-strong team aiming for global glory made up of performers from 11 countries

First UAE DanceSport team to perform in Paris

First UAE DanceSport team to perform in Paris
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A UAE dance squad will take on performers from all over the world in Paris this week, in an inclusive programme of ballet and performing arts.

The 19-strong team, including dancers from 11 different countries with two Emiratis, will showcase their skills in the International Festival of Dance and Performing Arts from Thursday to Monday.

The Special Olympics UAE Unified Dance Team, which includes 12 team members with intellectual disabilities, are hosted at Dubai's Dream It Possible Ballet and Performing Arts academy.

They also have the support of Dubai Sports Council and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, the emirate's private education regulator.

“Our troupe have their own designated 20-minute stage show inside Disneyland on one of its stages,” said the academy's founder Vicky Lovering.

“We will be competing against 18 other dance schools from around the world and the pre-parade, which will feature about 350 other performers.”

Ms Lovering explained that the motivation for the Special Olympic Unified Dance Team came from the UAE's desire to be as inclusive as possible.

“Since 2019, when Abu Dhabi hosted the Special Olympics, the UAE has made it one of their missions to become an all-inclusive country,” she said.

“It's mixing people of determination with mainstream people, so everyone is all-inclusive. We've got a unified team.”

The UAE team dancers are aged from six to 29, with many experienced performers and gymnasts in their ranks. Josie McIntyre, 18, won three medals, including one gold in rhythmic gymnastics at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi five years ago.

Clare McIntyre, mother of Josie, who has Down syndrome, said the scope of opportunities that have opened for those with special needs is incredible.

“Josie joined a dance group eight years ago when there were few opportunities for people of determination to express themselves,” Ms McIntyre said.

“It is testimony to the aspiration of the UAE. We would never have thought that in such a short space of time we would be competing in an international dance festival.

“Josie can't wait to go, although she did say she would prefer to go to Hollywood – she is obsessed with Kevin Hart.”

Updated: March 13, 2024, 6:54 AM