Welly O’Brien on danc­ing with a dis­abil­ity

Dis­abled dancer Welly O’Brien joins an old pal to cel­e­brate fe­male friend­ship at Ca­nary Wharf

The Wharf - - Canary Wharf - Laura En­field Go to fes­ti­val.org for more in­for­ma­tion.

When Welly O’Brien lost part of her leg in a train ac­ci­dent in In­dia as a teenager her world was turned up­side down and her dreams of be­com­ing a nurse were shat­tered.

But dis­cov­er­ing a pas­sion for dance gave her new pur­pose.

“I had never danced be­fore,” said the mum-of-two. “And I wouldn’t have ended up be­ing a dancer if it hadn’t hap­pened.

“I be­lieve ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son and good things come out of bad times.

She added: “I was learn­ing to walk again and met Can­doco Dance Com­pany and they kept in touch and asked me to do an ap­pren­tice­ship, and then I joined the com­pany full time.

“I was re­ally ner­vous and thought I couldn’t do it but the com­pany was so sup­port­ive and my con­fi­dence came re­ally quickly.”

She has spent the last two decades trav­el­ling to per­form on stages around the world and said: “My life has be­come so much richer through be­com­ing dis­abled.”

Now she is com­ing to per­form in Ca­nary Wharf for the first time as part of the Danc­ing City por­tion of Green­wich And Dock­lands In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val.

The 43-year-old will duet with Vic­to­ria Fox in Ded­i­cated To.

Com­mis­sioned by Can­doco Dance Com­pany, a group of dis­abled and non-dis­abled dance artists, the piece has been chore­ographed by Caro­line Bowditch and is a love let­ter to fe­male friend­ship cel­e­brat­ing love, life and fe­male strength.

Brighton res­i­dent Welly will take to the out­door stage, as al­ways, with­out a pros­thetic.

She said: “I feel I can move bet­ter with­out it. I feel more me and am my hap­pi­est when I don’t have it on.”

She added: “Caro­line is very much led by the bod­ies that come into the room. The fact I’m dis­abled is very much merged into the piece rather than high­lighted.”

Two benches are a fo­cal point for the rou­tine and Welly, real name Eleanor, said: “We were think­ing about what they meant to us.

“Vic and I are both par­ents and ev­ery­body has spent time in parks watch­ing their kids or wait­ing to meet some­one.

“There are of­ten plaques ded­i­cat­ing benches to special peo­ple and a lot of the move­ment came from there.

“And then it is ded­i­cated to women, friend­ship, life and sup­port, and how that adapts and evolves.”

The two dancers first met through Can­doco about 20 years ago and Welly said their own friend­ship had be­come closer through cre­at­ing the piece.

“We hadn’t danced to­gether for about 10 years so it was ex­cit­ing to be back work­ing and we are both mid-ca­reer older dancers,” she said. “I think it is nice for peo­ple to see that.” Ded­i­cated To will be per­formed in Colum­bus Court­yard on Satur­day June 30 at 2.30pm and 4.45pm. The per­for­mance will last ap­prox­i­mately 15 min­utes.

‘‘ The fact I’m dis­abled is very much merged into the piece rather than high­lighted Welly O’Brien, Can­doco Dance Com­pany

Vic­to­ria Fox (left) and Welly O’Brien will per­form Ded­i­cated To in Ca­nary Wharf as part of Green­wich And Dock­lands In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val

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