News News Shropshire dancers performing at Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony Nearly 200 participants in the event will be from inclusive dance collective Critical Mass and will perform alongside professional dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet, wheelchair dance group Freewheelin Dance Company and students from Elmhurst Ballet School, amongst a cast of thousands of people. Critical Mass exemplifies the inclusive nature of the Commonwealth Games with a fully integrated cast of D/deaf, disabled and non-disabled people performing together and representing the ethnic and cultural diversity of the West Midlands region. Members from Highflyers Youth Dance Group and Contact Dance Company, managed by Shropshire Inclusive Dance, joined Critical Mass over a year ago and have been practicing weekly and travelling to Alexander Stadium, Birmingham to rehearse in preparation for the Commonwealth Games Ceremony. This is an incredible achievement and a once in a lifetime experience for the aptly named group, Darwin Dancers, led by Shropshire based Lead Artist Anna Belyavin. Energize has supported Shropshire Inclusive Dance with funding via the Actio Consortium enabling children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) in Shropshire to access experiential and inclusive dance sessions. Although specific details of the Opening Ceremony are being kept under wraps, it will be performed in front of 35,000 spectators and will reach an estimated global television audience of around one billion. Rachel Liggitt, Co-Artistic Director of Shropshire Inclusive Dance and Inclusion Champion for Critical Mass states: “I am so excited to see the artistic realisation of a huge amount of hard work, planning, vision, and ambition. It is an incredibly exciting time for Birmingham and the West Midlands, and we are so proud of our Shropshire based dancers and all that they have achieved. They are going to be right there in the spotlight, centre stage - what an experience!” The image shows Shropshire’s Darwin Dancers in rehearsals in Birmingham.