"...athletes young or old can choose to compete..."
Wheelchair Dance Sport is an elegant sport which athletes young or old can choose to compete at either a local, Regional or National Championship through to Open International Championships and IPC World or European Championship.
Participants can compete “combi” style, dancing with a non-disabled partner, or duo dance for two wheelchair users together. Group dance involves wheelchair users only or together with non-disabled partners whereas single dance sees a wheelchair user dance alone. There are also Formation dances for four, six or eight couples dancing in formation.
Standard dances include waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, slow foxtrot and quickstep. Latin American dances include the samba, cha-cha-cha, rumba, paso doble and jive.
Wheelchair Dance Sport is an ever growing activity within Great Britain with a number of participating groups. Internationally the sport is played in 22 countries and growing.
Additional information and useful links
History of Wheelchair Dance
History of Wheelchair Dance
Wheelchair Dancing originated in Sweden in 1968 and started according to the IPC, when it was practiced for recreational and rehabilitation purposes. Els-Britt Larsson, a wheelchair user herself who worked for the Swedish Handicap-Federation, was one of the pioneers of this fascinating sport.
In 1975, the very first competition was organized in Västeras, Sweden, with a total of 30 couples taking part. Spectators were fascinated and inspired by the sport and very soon competitions started to be organized all over the world.
In 1977, the first international competition in Wheelchair Dance Sport took place in Sweden. After several regional and international competitions, the first World Championships were organized in Japan in 1998. The same year, Wheelchair Dance Sport became a Sport under the Governance and Management Authority of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), but is not part of the Paralympic Program.
Munich, Germany, organized the first Rock’n Roll European Championship in 1984, for wheelchair dancers. In 1985, the first unofficial European Championships in Latin and Standard were organized in the Netherlands. The first World Championships was held in Japan in 1998. At the 2006 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport World Championships, which took place in Papendal, the Netherlands, duo-dance was presented for the first time in two Standard and three Latin dances.
The 2008 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport World Championships was organised in Minsk, Belarus in October 2008.
The roots of wheelchair dancing in the UK can be traced back to the late 60s when a rehabilitation centre in Scotland was teaching people how to manoeuvre their wheelchairs and realised this could be done to music. A Wheelchair Dance Association was set up in the seventies and although team dancing developed, the international competitive style did not catch on.
The sport evolved when a group of wheelchair dancers from Devon wanted to compete and felt that the international style was very different. Sue Cummings and Ruth Boyne went along to an Instructor’s course in Malta in 2004 to learn more about the sport. On their return to the UK they started trying this new style of wheelchair dance sport and began advertising it, with the aim of showing that everyone can dance regardless of their disability. In 2006 there was enough interest in the sport to establish the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association (UK), the WDSA (UK).
Since 2006 – 13 the UK has now run three national competitions with over 30+ couples taking part and so far has had over six couples competing in International Competitions (open and IPC) with the first GB official international wheelchair dance competition being run in 2015. The WDSA (UK) has grown from four groups to over 30 groups running in the UK (these range from care homes to open groups) and more groups developing each year the WDSA (UK) look to ensure that everyone that would like to be involved in this sport can be.