Credit: Lorraine MacAlister

Strictly Come Dancing is currently on tour, and for the first time it has put on a special ‘relaxed performance’ for people with special needs, right here in Nottingham at The Motorpoint Arena.

‘Relaxed performances’ are designed to be accessible to a wide range of audiences such as those with autism, learning disabilities or additional needs.

During the performance the audience had the freedom to make as much noise as they wanted and they could move about the arena if needed.

There were also dedicated quiet areas around the arena for anyone who became too overwhelmed and wanted to leave their seat in favour of somewhere quieter.

Minor technical elements of the show were changed for the performance, to make it autism friendly.

  • House lights were partially lit throughout the performance
  • A special autism friendly introduction by Stacey Dooley
  • Reduced pyrotechnics and smoke effects
  • Reduced use of extremely bright colours
  • A reduction in tense effects such as heartbeats
  • Adjusted seating so there is more space between seats

The National Autistic Society has worked with the Motorpoint Area Nottingham by advising these small changes to the performance, in order to make it more accessible to those with autism and their families.

Credit: Lorraine MacAlister

During this performance, staff and volunteers from The National Autistic Society were on hand, as well as staff from the arena, to help the audience.

Lorraine MacAlister was one of those volunteers and she told CBJTarget that events like this, which include autistic people, are hugely important, as normally the anxiety of going to concerts excludes them.

She also said: “It really seemed like the cast were super happy to be doing this special performance and they were smiling and being really interactive with the audience.”

Staff at the arena also filmed a special Youtube video, telling the audience what to expect, in order to reduce anxiety and allow those with special needs attending today’s performance to prepare for the new environment before they arrived.

Credit: Motorpoint Arena Nottingham

The arena said, ahead of the performance, that audiences could expect to enjoy “an unmissable evening of dance entertainment filled with colour, excitement and humour. Showcasing all the amazing choreography and live music that Strictly is known for”.

The tour judges provided their feedback and scores after each performance, just like on the television.

The audience voted for their favourite couple and at the end of the show Mike Bushell and Katya Jones lifted the Glitterball Trophy!