strictly come dancing 
Last week, Strictly Come Dancing: The Live Tour made its way to Nottingham Motorpoint Arena for its first special relaxed performance, in association with our charity.

Hundreds of autistic people, their families and friends, attended the matinee performance on Wednesday 5 February.

Strictly favourite and 2018 TV show winner Stacey Dooley hosted the tour and judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli were on top form and everyone was on their feet dancing along with the contestants.

Autistic vlogger, Connor Ward, was lucky enough to see the show with family and reflected on the impact venues providing autism-friendly opportunities has had on him.

“When I was three years old I had an experience in the arena that turned me and my family off attending any sort of event like that for years. My entire family was amazed how nearly 20 years later, we were in the same arena and everything was calm. You could see everybody relaxed and enjoying the show. It’s worked so many times in theatres now and they’ve just proven that it can work in arenas. So let’s hope this sets a precedent for more shows and venues to do more in the future.”

The National Autistic Society worked with the show’s producers to make technical adaptations, as well as training performers, crew and venue staff to ensure that you’ll be met with people who understand autism throughout the experience. There were quiet spaces on the day, a relaxed audience etiquette and additional information and visual guides beforehand to prepare you for the day out including a visual guide video made by Connor. 

Small adaptations and an improved understanding of autism from everyone involved in making these productions happen, can mean the world of difference to so many autistic people and their families.

Daniel Cadey, Autism Friendly Development Manager, says, ‘We’re so pleased to have been able to work with Strictly Come Dancing: The Live Tour on their first relaxed performance at the Nottingham Motorpoint Arena. The reaction from the audience was fantastic, and performers really embraced the interaction and excitement from everyone in the audience. Shows like this are so important, because conventional theatre environments can be an anxiety-inducing experience for lots of autistic people, who can often feel excluded from going to the theatre for fear of being asked to leave.

"Small adaptations and an improved understanding of autism from everyone involved in making these productions happen, can mean the world of difference to so many autistic people and their families and we hope to see more large venues like this opening up their shows to more autistic people. “

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