Model and darling of New York Fashion Week, Madeline Stuart, is back in the spotlight for a slightly different reason this week after being announced as the ambassador for an inclusive dance company InsideOutside.
The Queensland-based dance and theatre company, which works with people with disabilities and dementia. They have just launched Dance Ensemble, a new project to empower young people with disabilities so they can have the training to work professionally in the dance industry.
Madeline was one of the founding dancers of Dance Ensemble, and showed off her moves with her boyfriend at the company’s launch in Brisbane over the weekend with other young dancers with disabilities.
Actor, writer and director Angela Witcher initially founded InsideOutside as a theatre company, and had the idea in 2015 to start Dance Ensemble.
‘InsideOutside was a way to help people with disabilities express themselves creatively,’ Angela told Daily Mail Australia.
The company has a number of different choreographers who work with the young dancers, mentoring and advising them as well as teaching them to dance. They work with a number of different styles, including aerial, contemporary dance, hip hop and experimental dance.
‘The power of theatre and dance is that anyone can do it. Everybody can dance, everybody can move something. We focus on the movement that people have got, and adapt moves for that.’
Dance ensemble, as well as all of InsideOutside’s programs, is free for all students. Angela said that she is passionate about making it accessible for everyone, and that’s part of the reason why Madeline got involved as well.
‘Madeline wants other young people to have the same opportunities and chances she had to succeed. We feel so blessed to have her as an ambassador,’ Angel said. The company hopes to train some of its dancers to become choreographers, both for Dance Ensemble itself, and other professional dance companies.
With no student fees, Dance Ensemble is supported by grants and a crowdfunding campaign, which is hoping to raise $20,000. ‘We’d really love anyone who can help out to donate, every little bit counts,’ Angela said.
The program is currently running in four locations, Brisbane CBD, Caboolture, Ipswich and Jindalee, but Angela hopes to one day expand nationally. She wants the program to be available in the regions as well as the city, because services for young people with disabilities can be difficult to find in the country.
‘The overall aim is to create a professional performance platform where emerging artists with disability can learn, create, explore and perform and devise a body of work which we can tour regionally, nationally and hopefully internationally,’ Angela said.
‘In the future we also want to create a blueprint for parents to use and run the programs themselves. All you need is a hall and people to set it up.’
Madeline is jetting off to the United States to walk in New York Fashion Week, but will be dancing with InsideOutside whenever she can. She’s the first model with Down syndrome to walk twice at NYFW.
Madeline’s mum, Rosanne Stuart, said that their aim was for Madeline to walk in Milan and Tokyo fashion weeks later in 2016.