People with disabilities should have as much opportunity to follow their dreams as anyone else, they should not be held back by their disabilities. We watch the paralympics in awe , as blind skiers fly down the slopes and runners with impaired limbs, race around the track. But last night, we saw a young man, who happens to have downs syndrome, dance his heart out on ‘The Greatest Dancer’ on BBC1. His proud Mum introduced him and explained how he would ‘plod’ when he walked but that his feet came alive when he danced. Then we saw it for ourselves and we watched him light up the stage. In that TV talent show, the mirrors pull open if at least 75% of the audience press their buttons and then they progress to the next stage of the competition.He danced his heart out and when the mirrors pulled back to reveal the audience, he clearly fed off the reaction of the crowd and he beamed as he performed at an even higher level., like a real showman.
We saw so many people visibly moved by his performance, his reaction, his obvious pure joy at being there and meeting his idols and his clear love for his Mum too. It was for me the highlight of the show and they clearly saved the best until last. The ‘captains’ did not patronise him, they did not talk to him in an insulting way – “aww bless him, the disabled boy is having fun”. But they told him to keep dancing as it was good for his soul, and we could see that it was true. His best friend was in the audience and when he got through to the next round, Tom went down onto the stage to congratulate and hug his best friend. That too was a beautiful moment.
Of course, me being me, I wept throughout the performance and the aftermath. That is what I would like for Joshua : to find his passion and to develop a skill that makes him truly happy. I already know that he loves his mum, he is not embarrassed to hug me in public, but I would adore him to have a best friend too, someone of his own age who was proud of him and supported him like we saw on The Greatest Dancer last night. I am already looking forward to seeing him perform again. I doubt that he will win the competition – £50,000 and to perform on Strictly – as he was not the most technically accomplished dancer there. But if votes were won for passion and the impact that dance has had on his life, then he should win the first prize.