A GROUP of teenagers and young adults will be showing off their dance moves at a free festival to spread the message of inclusivity in the performing arts.

Emma Vernon-Harcourt, director of the Dance Inc group, will showcase her young performers at the TakePart festival tomorrow at The Level in Brighton.

Dance Inc is supported by South East Dance and is made up of 13 to 25-year-olds, some of whom have complex needs and learning difficulties.

TakePart is an award winning festival set up by local organisations and the city council to celebrate sport, dance and exercise in Brighton and Hove.

Ms Vernon-Harcourt tells JOSH WALTON about her journey to becoming director of the group and what to expect from the performance.

How do you think groups like yours can bring together young people from different backgrounds and encourage inclusivity?

It’s a brilliant way to unite people that either have learning difficulties or special needs and those who don’t, so they can enjoy the freedom of dancing together. There are so many different types of people within our group.

We teach them how to dance and encourage pure creativity in our sessions. It is all about them learning to move in the way they want to. Having the opportunity to have a go at an event like this gives my group the chance to see how fun it can be. It brings them together and really does make them all feel that they have an equal opportunity to have fun and learn to dance as they go.

Is this a personal mission for you and what were your reasons for starting Dance Inc?

My younger sister has Down’s syndrome so I grew up with an awareness of these issues. The father of one of my good friends had polio and was a very determined man and was a real inspiration to me.

My partner and I wanted to set up something to accommodate people with or without disabilities. Together we set up Epic Arts which was my first company and that has now become an international NGO.

I used to be involved in theatre myself and first learnt dance styles such as modern and jazz. I had an audition for Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, so I am really passionate about what we do at Dance Inc.

What would you like to see change about the way organisations approach inclusivity in dance and the performing arts?

I think I would like to see inclusion meaning what it says on the tin. There are dedicated groups but there is also so much scope for more opportunities for people to come together regardless of their background and ability. We need to encourage the sharing of skills and knowledge.

I hope through what we are doing as a group we can share expertise and help other groups to be able to progress in this area. My experience of the performing arts has been very positive in this aspect. I try to explain what inclusive dance really is. Although I would highlight that body consciousness is a big issue in the performing arts especially for young people.

What are you most looking forward to about tomorrow’s event?

It will be a great feeling to see different groups coming together on the day to get active and have this opportunity. There is amazing community support for the festival. The atmosphere at events like this is always great. It’s going to be a lot of fun.