Performers with learning disabilities are transforming the way dance students in Winchester think about their own artistic skills.

Dancers from Blue Apple, a city-based charity which aims to transform the lives of people with learning disabilities through high quality drama, dance, singing and film, are currently touring Hampshire and Dorset with the University of Winchester’s D@win Dance Company and are helping students discover new ways of moving together.

Dr Noyale Colin, senior lecturer in choreography and dance at the University of Winchester, said: “The experience of working with Blue Apple performers is transformative for some of the students who have discovered new ways of moving together in relation to technical aspects such as timing, use of breath and imagery, quality of movement but also in relation to safe practice in dance.

“The collaborative inclusive dance pieces with Blue Apple contribute to a more diverse programme of repertoire of dance in terms of representation, abilities and accessibility. It contributes to a wider vision of dance with regards to well-being and social cohesion.

“And students involved with Blue Apple learn a wider sense of collaboration in dance through engaging with different ways of perceiving and understanding the world around them.”

The dance team is performing in schools and colleges in Gosport, Bournemouth, Southampton and Christchurch, with a showcase at the University of Winchester in May.

One of the pieces, Tread Softly, shaped by choreographer Caroline Hotchkiss, is focussed on education and the links to climate change.

Third-year student Lydia, who is a member of the D@win Dance Company during her BA (Hons) Dance degree programme, said: “The dances all have a strong, thought-provoking message.

“Working with Blue Apple has been fun. The performers bring originality to their dances and all of them bring their own interpretations of how we should perform as dancers.”

Blue Apple performer Lawrie Morris commented: “I really like working with the students - they are so easy-going and our dance teacher Caroline is one of the best. We all work well as a team.”

Blue Apple is now developing a new integrated graduate company to tour with a longer routine built from the established repertoire of five dance pieces.

General Manager Simon Morris said: “The annual collaboration has been a stunning example of inclusive dance practice for five years. Each new piece, freshly developed every year, is devised from scratch by all the dancers under the direction of Caroline Hotchkiss, who is a hugely imaginative choreographer that truly understands how to integrate highly neuro-diverse abilities. The results are always incredibly moving, telling tales that resonate deeply with everyone who sees them through spellbinding movement.”