Adelaide squad All Abilities Cheer and Dance go for gold at cheerleading national championships

After hours of hard work and dedication, members of Adelaide’s All Abilities Cheer and Dance are finally on the doorstep of their first big interstate competition.

A squad of 23 dancers of various ages and abilities will arrive in Queensland today ahead of the Australian All Star Cheerleading Federation National Championships on Sunday.

Melissa Kirkman has been dancing since she was a child and said she was looking forward to showing her opponents what she can do.

“I’m so excited for nationals,” she said.

“I love it so much and I like getting out there and having fun with my dancing.”

Melissa Kirkman is part of the 23-member squad competing in nationals.(Supplied: All Abilities Cheer and Dance)

All Abilities opened just over two years ago, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic while heavy social distancing restrictions were in place.

It was the brainchild of director Alana Giaccio, who combined her love of dance with her experience with disability in having two brothers with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

She said the response was immediate.

“We gained 75 students within the first three months, which I didn’t expect at all,” she said.

“There are quite a few mainstream studios that offer disability classes but we’re the only disability-only studio that offers competition and recreational classes in Adelaide.”

A dancer wearing a sparkly long sleeved dress poses with arm in the air against a red backdrop
Hannah Glancy says dancing brings her happiness.(Supplied: All Abilities Cheer and Dance)

Mother Paula Rocca said she searched for years for a studio of her kind to introduce her daughter to.

“She wouldn’t go anywhere, she just sat on the couch, really,” she said.

“Her anxiety now, she still has it, but she’s come out of her shell a lot since then.”

Dancer Hannah Glancy believes having an environment tailored to people with disabilities has helped to boost her self-confidence in and out of classes.

“It’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said.

“It’s helped me so much with my dance skills and making friends.

“That whole team is like my second family, they mean so much to me and if I ever lose them I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Win or lose, the dancers hope their skills will be at the forefront of their national performances.

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