Thursday 13 December 2012

In Reality I Dance (sort of!)

Anne Wafula Strike on Sequins and Snowballs

Anne Wafula Strike is one of the new recruits for the Rhinestone Rollers festive extravaganza Sequins and Snowballs. Here she tells us a bit about her experience with Graeae so far:
When my agent rang me and said I had been invited to perform in a Christmas show with the famous Rhinestone Rollers I felt immensely honoured but I did wonder how they could transform me from wheelchair racer into a wheelchair dancer. I have performed on several stages in my life, from an early career as a singer/musician in Kenya to public speaking and becoming an elite athlete, but none of that compares to my part in Sequins and Snowballs.
To say I was daunted is an understatement but they say people with many interests live longest and happiest!! However, it has been one of the great experiences of my life so let me tell you a little about it.
Directors Jenny Sealey and Amit Sharma, along with Mark Smith, the totally brilliant choreographer, are doing their very best to bring out my inner self. I’ve got rhythm but a memory like a sieve so it is really hard work.
In my ‘normal’ life I have a very different schedule but for this show – it’s been about so many things. We rehearse from ten until six and then I make the exhausting journeys to and from Bradbury Studios, but also have lots of fun.
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The team are all lovely to work with. You just have to interact with this group to realise they ooze charisma and are passionate about what they do; everyone is fantastic. Samanta and Katy have really developed their own style during rehearsals; Penny has an encyclopaedic knowledge and remembers everything; Mandy is very outgoing and really made me feel at home. For me, David is king of disabled performers and if you thought he amazed you by flying during the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony, then wait and see what moves ‘King David’ has for you in this show.  Daryl and Zane are a joy to watch as they sign, Alex and Sean are wonderful musicians with a great sense of humour and Alisa brings a smile to all our faces.
So, we have a few more days of rehearsing before doing two shows on Saturday 15 December in the Clore Ballroom in the Southbank Centre, at 2pm and 5pm. I am nervous and very excited at the same time and can’t wait for the opportunity to show off my newly learnt skills in front of my family and friends. No doubt I will be very sad when it’s all over but I will always be very proud to say I worked with Graeae’s fantastic Rhinestone Rollers.
- Anne Wafula Strike
Catch sequins and Snowballs on Saturday 15 December at the Clore Ballroom, Southbank Centre.
Free performances at 2pm and 5pm with free masterclass workshops in between.

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Tuesday 4 December 2012

Raising Hope.

Dame Evelyn Glennie and Anne Wafula-Strike light up the Annual Gala Dinner

On a blustery night in Victoria, London, a group of dedicated AbleChildAfrica supporters and Friends gathered in the delightful surroundings of 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel to celebrate an incredible year for AbleChildAfrica.
The totaliser now flashes at over £30k raised from the night! This is thanks to, in no small part, Anne Wafula Strike’s inspirational speech about how disability impacted on her life as a young aspiring athlete in Kenya and how AbleChildAfrica is making a life changing difference to so many other ‘Anne’s’ in Africa! Anne is so unique in being able to make an audience laugh and cry in the space of 15 minutes!
To celebrate AbleChildAfrica’s Paralympic year of success guests were given the opportunity to pose with the Paralympic Torch and meet our guest of honour, Jenny Archer (Coach of the super human 6 x gold medal winner David Weir). David provided a stash of signed goodies that helped us raise an additional £1500 on the night. So, special thanks to David for his support.
The night culminated in a breathtaking performance from the phenomenal Coco Mbassi, before Dame Evelyn Glennie wowed guests with her unique solo percussion performance. The interactive performance will be cherished by all who attended – although the clapping ability of some of the AbleChildAfrica staff will go down in history for the wrong reasons!
The night also marked the launch of the latest Annual Review and an inspiring AbleChildAfrica video!
Lastly, the staff and board at AbleChildAfrica would like to take this opportunity to thank all the generous guests and donors on the night, the staff at the incredible 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel and all the volunteers who helped out on night and in the build up to the event. We hope that many of you will continue supporting us throughout the year and celebrate with us in style at next years Annual Dinner!