Dancing To Disney

As seen on the Compass program - ABC1 on 15th May 2011

From rehearsals to the big day, Compass follows The Merry Makers as they rehearse and make their way to Disneyland in California for their first ever overseas performance.
Nearly all the troupe - up to 70 dancers - plus their parents, carers and helpers went on the tour... many calling it 'an adventure of a lifetime'.

Compass follows their inspiring journey from rehearsals to the big day through the eyes and lives of the Merry Makers and their extended entourage.

Watch now on the Compass website

Read about the trip from "A Parent's Perspective" here.

View the Dancing to Disney Photo Gallery here.


Community Dance Programs

Thousands of children, adults and their families across Australia, we know, would love to be involved in a dance program like the Merry Makers. After our documentary The Music In Me aired on ABC TV and our book Love Is In The Air was published, we received floods of inquiries from people longing for a similar experience.

It’s always been our dream that every person with a disability, no matter where they live, be able to participate in an organisation such as ours. Yet as a voluntary organisation, we knew there was no way we could take on the mammoth task of setting up similar bodies wherever there is a need, however much we’d like to.

Instead, however, we can encourage and support people taking our example and establishing their own form of dance program within their community. The structure and format may vary depending on local needs, for instance within Special Schools, within existing local dance schools as an additional class structured for people with disabilities, or, like with Merry Makers, in a community hall with the support of parents and volunteers.

In this regard, Merry Makers Australia is extremely grateful to the Sydney Community Foundation (SCF) for providing funding to assist with this project.  This generous grant was made out of the Neil Cocks and Kellan Kent subfund which was established in memory of Neil and Kellan to assist children with learning disabilities.

Over the last few years, Master Classes have been held in Sydney bringing together all interested parties from the wider Sydney metropolitan area and beyond.  Using our extensive waiting list, parents, students, teachers and volunteers are invited to watch an on-stage rehearsal followed by a performance of favourite dances in costume. The Merries then join their special guests for afternoon tea. 

Additionally, we have undertaken trips to perform and conduct Master Classes in South Australia in association with Foundation 21, Tasmania for Down Syndrome Tasmania and also in Brisbane.  As successful performers with disabilities, the Merry Makers are outstanding role models and the impact of the Master Classes is always overwhelming.  Many parents in the audience watch, moved to tears by the emotion, as their children join the Merry Makers to dance on stage.  

Merry Makers Australia will continue to work with individual groups to help with the establishment of community dance programs and we are extremely proud to provide the following links:

A gift “starter pack” including red and blue wristbands to help everyone tell their right hand from their left – introduced by the Founder of Merry Makers, Rosemary Marriott AM, and still used today – is given to each group using the Marriott Method of “red for the right” and “blue for the left” as part of their dance teaching programs.  

The Devonport BrightStars




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