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Joe Powell-Main

I am Joe Powell-Main a freelance differently abled dancer. I aim to challenge perceptions, start conversations and open up opportunities for me and other differently abled dancers.

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Photography by Andrej Upenski

My Story

Joe began dancing at the age of four with his sister Holly. Whilst in the early stages of training in Newtown, in Mid Wales, Joe's dance teacher saw that he had a potential for ballet. Joe began training in ballet at aged five. At the age of seven Joe successfully auditioned for the Royal Ballet School Junior associate programme, at the Birmingham Royal Ballet Studios. Joe travelled to Birmingham for three years every Saturday to take part in the Junior associate programme. Whilst on the programme Joe was lucky enough to perform with Birmingham Royal Ballet in the Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome and then in a UK tour of Sylvia. Joe also trained for a year on the Elmhurst School for Dance pre-vocational programme.

At the age of ten Joe sucessfully auditioned for the Royal Ballet School Lower School, White Lodge Richmond Park. Joe trained at the Royal Ballet School for four years. During his time at RBS Joe was lucky enough to perform with The Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker and also Matthew Hart's Peter and the Wolf at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Other highlights included performing for HRH Princess Alexandra and also understudying and performing in the world premiere of Antonia Castilla's Legado.

During Joe's fourth year of training at RBS, Joe developed injuries after a prolonged period of growth. This resulted in Joe having surgery on his left knee. Unfortunately after surgery Joe developed complications and was also involved in a serious car accident, this meant that Joe unfortunately had to leave RBS.

After acquiring his disability Joe stopped dancing for a period of three years. Joe returned to dancing through wheelchair latin and ballroom dance classes in Manchester. Joe went on to do numerous competitions becoming the UK National Para Dance Champion in Solo Freestyle and also Combi Freestyle with his sister, Holly.

Joe studied performing arts at college and rediscovered his love for ballet. He began to post videos on social media to see if he could connect with other ballet dancers with a disability. Whilst pursuing this endeavour Joe began studying a degree in Dance and Performance at the Arden School of Theatre in Manchester. Joe graduated from the Arden with a First Class Degree.

Joe's posts on social media became successful as he connected with Ballet Cymru who invited him to participate in their 2018 Summer School as a scholarship participant. This eventually transitioned into Joe becoming an apprentice through the Pre-Professional Programme and then joining the main company at Ballet Cymru in 2020.  

Joe has recently taught on the Ballet Cymru associate programme, Duets programme, Inclusive courses and Summer School. Joe also taught ballet classes through the Capezio Live platform with his sister Holly throughout COVID restrictions in 2020. During these Capezio classes Joe provided seated options for classes.

During 2020, Joe was involved in two digital collaborations. Conversations for Future Selves, in which he created a short film Y Ddraig showcasing disability and classical ballet. Joe also worked with the National Dance Company of Wales, as part of the Plethu/Weave commissions. For this commission Joe created a short film O'r Lludw with Aneirin Karadog, which followed on from the impetus created from the #weshallnotberemoved campaign.

In 2021 Joe was part of a UK tour of Ballet Cymru's Giselle and Made in Wales Mixed Bill programme. Joe also became the first dancer using a wheelchair and crutches to perform with the Royal Ballet. Joe performed with the Royal Ballet alongside the artist Birdy at the Paralympic Homecoming Ceremony at Wembley Arena. Joe co-created the bespoke ballet piece for this event with Royal Ballet Principal Character Artist, Kristen McNally. 

Joe was a panellist on the Royal Opera House Insight, How can we make the arts more disability inclusive, for international day of disability 2021. The conversation featured some of the leading artists in the current arts sector who experience disability.

Recent projects include performing with The Royal Ballet as a Guest Artist in The Sleepwalker for Spring Draft Works and for a short film, leading workshops and participating in a research and development period for I am 8 with Sweetshop Revolution, choreographing and performing Undone for the One Young World 2022 opening summit in Manchester at the Bridgewater Hall and performing a lead role in the northern tour of The Powel of Performance: This Is Us with Southpaw Dance Company and Pinwheel for the Rugby League World Cup Cultural Festival. 

 

Looking into the immediate future, Joe would love to perform with many ballet and dance companies. Joe hopes to strike up regular collaborative possibilities with different ballet and dance companies as a Guest Artist. 

 

Joe has experience in teaching and hopes to inspire the next generation of differently abled dancers.

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