Magpie Dance is the UK’s leading dance charity for people with learning disabilities. We believe that a learning disability should not be a barrier to personal and artistic success. Through dance, our participants gain life, social and communication skills with added health and wellbeing benefits.

Our vision

A world where a learning disability is no barrier to personal and artistic success in dance.

Our mission

To enable people with learning disabilities to reach their full personal, social and artistic potential through dance.

Our values

What we do

We run inclusive dance sessions for children and adults with learning disabilities. Our collaborations with exciting artists and live musicians enrich this experience.

We deliver professional training for education, dance, health and business clients nationally.

We work in partnership with the NHS to provide in-patient work for clients with dementia and a range of complex learning disabilities.

At its heart, Magpie Dance supports people with learning disabilities to gain significant life, social and communication skills with measurable health and wellbeing benefits and to take part in the life of the community through dance.

Our history

Since our beginning, the aim was for dancers to have as many opportunities as possible to perform and collaborate with different companies and artists. Founded in 1985 by Avril Hitman BEM our values and approach were founded on the social model of disability – it is up to society to find a way of including people rather than excluding because of disability. This remains vital to Magpie Dance today, which has now grown from one 45-minute session per week, to enabling over 300 people to access regular dance activity sessions each year.

Annual Review

You can read Magpie Dance's latest Annual Review for April 2022 - March 2023.

Please email Laura Graham, Magpie Dance’s Executive Director, if you would like a copy of Magpie Dance’s Annual Accounts or our Policies and Procedures.

Our impact, quality and practice

Magpie Dance regularly evaluates the impact of our work to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our dancers and their care networks. Dancers, facilitators, parents, carers and staff members provide us with valuable insights into our methods, projects and achievements.

We provide high quality contemporary dance experiences, supporting people with learning disabilities to develop dance skills, build their artistic voice and meaningfully engage in mainstream public, arts and professional communities through a lifelong engagement with dance. You can read our Quality Framework which underpins our programme of work.

“… Magpie Dance was her sanctuary… where she felt safe, among friends who cared about her and supported her, with teachers and support staff she knew she could trust and rely upon. As well as the dance classes she loves, it allowed her to escape from all her worries.” – Parent

Magpie Dance's key outcomes are:

Communication, confidence, health and wellbeing, positive social interactions, confidence and gaining skills.

Don’t just take it from us, here’s what our dancers say:

could communicate better
with people
had increased confidence
had developed new skills
were less isolated/lonely
were healthier
said that Magpie Dance was
most important to them
have attended for more
than 10 years
of new participants
completed termly sessions
Reported 2017
According to our participants, the long-term activities give them a sense of belonging, stability, happiness, and safety.

For an inside look into the peer mentoring programme:

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Our stories

Read more about our stories from Magpie Dance

Our stories

Feet on the beat

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Become a proud volunteer

We are very grateful to all our volunteers who have supported and continue to support Magpie Dance participants on classes, projects, performances, and everything in between.

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