Millie (Dance Education 2021) was nominated and shortlisted in our 2023 Alumni Awards in the category of Rising Star, and also nominated in the Community Hero category too.
Millie graduated with first-class degree in 2021 and later that year went on to found Tessellation Dance, an inclusive dance company based in Kent. She is passionate about dance and ensuring it is accessible to all, particularly people with disabilities and older people. Whilst still studying, Millie became an ambassador for both One Dance UK and AWA Dance.
Through Tessellation Dance, she gives people a chance to be creative and get active by providing dance workshops in Special Education Needs and Disabilities schools, early years settings, adult residential homes and care homes. As well as all this, she works for Parable Dance as their General Manager and guest speaks at their events. She also co-leads online inclusive dance sessions alongside dance leaders with learning disabilities for DanceSyndrome. Millie has chronic illnesses that greatly impact her day-to-day life, making her achievements even more admirable.
We spoke to Millie about why inclusive dance is so beneficial, in terms of both physical and mental wellbeing, and why it is important to challenge common preconceptions of disability.
“When I founded Tessellation Dance, COVID-19 was still a big consideration in care and disability settings meaning many organisations were not able to bring access our sessions.
“Despite this, in our first year we ran 157 sessions in 18 care homes/adult settings and 5 schools/playschools. With restrictions easing in our second year, we were able to surpass our previous year’s success having run 596 sessions in 23 care homes/adult settings and 10 schools/playschools. We have come into contact with almost 4000 adults and over 2500 children, all in 2 years. I have now hired two additional teachers who are greatly aiding me in broaden the reach and grow the success of the company.
“Our work deeply impacts people through growing their confidence and self-esteem as well as physical fitness. We always put our dancers first and our sessions are extremely participant-led, meaning they are given autonomy and leadership opportunities. The groups we work with don’t usually get access to dance sessions appropriate for them and are often made to feel excluded. It is our mission to create an environment where everyone can excel whilst having fun too!”
“My current roles align perfectly with my personal values. I will go above and beyond to make sure everyone’s voices are heard and respected. I will never exclude anyone based on something they cannot change about themselves and I will also do my best to support others in reaching their goals and aspirations.
“Being disabled myself and dealing with chronic illnesses, I know first-hand how inaccessible dance can be as well as society in general. People’s perceptions of disability need to change and I feel I can use my work to take a step in the right direction.
“My time at Canterbury Christ Church University shaped me as a professional as well as personally. I gained so much confidence through my course and felt supported by the faculty. I was able to make strong industry connections which have led me to securing work as well as much-needed advice through the beginning of my career. I always know the faculty is there for me, even now I have graduated, and it is a pleasure to be part of such a warm community. I was armed with the skills and knowledge I needed to achieve many of my goals so early on in my career and that is in no small part due to my experience at CCCU.”