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.
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.