When it comes to being a good dancer, hard work and a positive attitude can get you a long way. On an episode of the British TV show “The Greatest Dancer,” we get to see exactly how far.
AWA stands for “Autism With Attitude.” They’re a dance troupe founded by high school dance teacher Jonathan Baron, and they recently took to the “Greatest Dancer” stage to show the world that it doesn’t pay to underestimate people because they’re on the autism spectrum.
All of the members of AWA are on the spectrum, and with Jonathan’s help, they’ve found a new way to express themselves through dance. Cheryl, who is the mother of one of the dancers, says that she saw an immediate change in her son as soon as he started working with AWA.
“James has high functioning autism,” she explained. “He’s always been quite a solitary child, but dancing has opened his eyes a lot to the outside world. I see him dance with passion, excitement, happiness, and these are all emotions that we never saw from him.”
“They began with Jonathan Baron, a dance teacher at the school, who saw an opportunity for the children to be able to express themselves through dance,” Cheryl continued. “They’ve become a real family unit. They just want to prove to everyone that regardless of your abilities and capabilities that you can achieve anything.”
Once the troop was checked in and ready to perform, they entered the small studio where the action begins. On “The Greatest Dancer,” dancers start off in the audition room and if more than 75% of the audience likes their dancing, a wall opens up and the auditorium, complete with a full audience and the judges, are revealed. Dancers who move on to the next round can then compete for prize money and a chance to appear on “Strictly Come Dancing,” another popular British dance show.
As soon as AWA enters the room you can tell they’re nervous, but they all manage to put their nerves aside and bust out their moves like the true pros they are. As “All Star” by Smash Mouth plays the dancers burst into an energetic and athletic dance routine that incorporates elements of hip hop, rock and roll, and even some gymnastic tumbling.
By the time the music changes to a pounding AC/DC beat, the troop has won over the audience with more than 75% rating! The wall opens to reveal the giant room full of people, and the kids seem overwhelmed but excited by their success.
When they’d finished their routine they had completely won over the audience. Everyone in the room was on their feet and cheering wildly for the teens, not just because they are on the spectrum, but because they’ve clearly worked hard to get this far — and they were fantastic!
All three judges were moved by AWA, with Cheryl telling them, “You came out with passion, with force, with fearlessness. And you did exactly what your mom said before. No matter your ability, no matter what’s going on, if you put in hard work and dedication, you can achieve your dreams.”
Matthew Morrison concurred, adding a personal note. “I just want to say, Jonathan, I really salute what you’re doing,” said Matthew. “My nephew has autism.”
This inspiring troop is here to remind us all that we can do anything if we set our mind to it! They aim to change the perception people have of autism, and they’re doing exactly that. Great job, guys!
Watch AWA nailing their audition in the clip below, and don’t forget to share their accomplishment with others.
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