December Cover Story
For our December cover story, we had the absolute pleasure of speaking to dance group (and get2gether members) Unique-Ability! They chatted to us about their experiences forming the group, how they came up with the name, what a typical Unique-Ability rehearsal looks like, their performances so far, and what the future holds for the group.
Haven’t been able to see Unique-Ability perform yet? Want to get into the festive spirit? Then why not come along to our Christmas Celebration with LGBT Health and Wellbeing on Sunday 4th of December at St Mark’s Unitarian Church from 2pm-4pm! There’s going to be singing, dancing, refreshments and lots of Christmas cheer!
Read on for the full scoop about the wonderful Unique-Abilities!
How was Unique-Ability formed? What have been your experiences so far?
Lauren: It came to be from ‘Lauren’s Happy Group’ doing Zooms. Katrina, Tracey and Robert would start copying the dance moves that I was doing. Then they asked “can we come along and join in?” and I said “of course, everyone can come along and dance”. There were never any plans for me to be a dance teacher. Even when I broke my left elbow we did one-handed dances. It was so special. It was the pandemic and we all needed dance and fun. After the success of our first performance at the Pageant, I know we’d got something special and that we’d continue to thrive.
Katrina: I feel so privileged and lucky to be a part of it. Each time we perform we get better and better and lots of people are enjoying us perform. Other members feeling like they can join in is really special. I was told at school that I’m rubbish at dancing and I now feel like I’ve proved them wrong!
Robert: Miss Annabel Sings at Pride For All came up to Lauren and said that she’d known me from years ago when I could barely speak to someone and was really shocked and happy that I was up there on stage performing like that. She could see how much happiness and confidence it was bringing me.
Ian: I had a really good experience joining Unique-Abilities. Getting to perform in public was amazing.
Tracey: I think it’s fantastic. To be able to do this with your pals and have fun. I’m so happy when I perform. People say ‘well done’ and ‘we really enjoy it’ and call us ‘superstars’ which is so nice.
Lauren: We’ve just helped out a charity as well! We got £50 for one of our performances, and we had a conversation and decided to donate it to Headways, a charity supporting people with brain injuries.
Lauren: I use the term ‘unique-abilities’ because I don’t want us to always be seen as having ‘disabilities’ because I think the label ‘disabilities’ and ‘conditions’ is quite a tiring name. I’d rather people say “Lauren has unique-abilities” so yes they are ‘issues’ and ‘unique’ but they make me unique and they aren’t a negative thing.
I think it was a conversation between myself, Tracey and Katrina about how much we liked the term was how we decided on naming our dance group ‘Unique-Ability’.
What does a typical Unique-Ability rehearsal look like?
Katrina: Usually we’re on Zoom! We also play other music in between practices to warm up and so other people who aren’t part of the group can join in too. It’s lots of fun, I’m normally sweating buckets after it!
Lauren: You’ve got to watch for Tracey – she’s a sassy one! (everyone laughs). Every single one of them can do so much. I think Katrina shocked herself with how well she’s doing. I would never want to dance with another group of people.
What have your experiences been so far performing at the Pageant, Pride For All, get2gether’s Red Carpet event and Rainbow Pride?
Lauren: I don’t think the pageant had seen anything like it before – all the phones came out! And the photographer who was there to take pictures of the girls, started taking pictures of Unique-Ability. It’s great to see people following our journey. We’ve not ruled out stuff like Britain’s Got Talent so it would be cool to see that go ahead. We also may be doing a collaboration with get2gether member Ian who has got a routine from The Greatest Showman. We are also considering opening the dance group to one or two members, if they get on with the group and are as passionate and committed about this as we are.
Tracey: For me, it’s been fantastic. I’m happy to keep doing it! I can see people cheering and taking videos and I love it. I feel so happy and excited to be a part of a group.
Katrina: I felt amazing afterwards, and I even noticed when I was doing it that people were joining in as well when we performed at Rainbow Pride. My staff have said that they’ve noticed I’m more confident. Part of my support plan is that I want to try new things and I’m glad I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
Ian: My best memories of the year were performing those three times. It’s a rarity I get to perform in public and I feel a sense of accomplishment.
Robert: I feel proud of myself. I never thought I would be in a group dancing. I feel much more confident.
What does the future hold for Unique-Ability?
Lauren: To carry it on! We’re looking into performing at the festival, Britain’s Got Talent, and I’m sure other places will want us to perform at different points too. Maybe at ATIK and Karaoke Discos with get2gether! Unique-Ability is a lifeline for me, it really keeps me going. We know of other places who want us to perform because they’ve been in contact, so we already have other stuff in the works.
Tracey: I want us to continue on this journey and keep doing it because we are fantastic!
Katrina: Keeping us going. There have been times when I’ve mentally not been in a good place and it’s one of these things where once you go on zoom and picks up your mood. It’s been a lifeline for me, like Lauren, and has given my life purpose. I’m so inspired by this group of people and everybody is amazing. This is only the start for us, we’re going to get better and better.
Robert: To keep performing!
Ian: Things are looking really good. I’m looking forward to dancing in the future for Unique-Abilities.