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Inaugural bursary in honour of former mac employee, awarded to dance practitioners

A dance bursary set up by the family of former mac employee Norma Abbott, has distributed its inaugural awards this November. Emerging dance practitioners Faye O’Connor based in Birmingham and Katie-Lea Stevenson based in Rowley Regis will use their £250 bursaries to extend their training, enabling them to develop and share their skills with those living with dementia and age related infirmities as well as young people both in the UK and abroad respectively. Alongside the bursaries, Norma’s family have planted a tree in her memory in Cannon Hill Park.

Norma Abbott was a Customer Service Assistant at mac for many years and was a keen dancer and a tireless advocate for participation in dance. The bursary has been set up to benefit West Midlands based dancers and choreographers, who will later showcase their work at mac. Norma’s husband Peter is committed to awarding the yearly bursaries for the rest of his life. 

Bursary recipient Faye O’Connor decided to become a full-time community dance artist just over a year ago. She is currently delivering dance sessions in residential care homes for the elderly. Her bursary will help to fund a ‘later life exercise’ training course, which will develop her knowledge and understanding of physiology and aging bodies.  Faye said: ‘Enabling people to dance who often believe they can’t due to their diminishing physical ability or lack of cognitive capacity has been immensely rewarding. This bursary will help to ensure I’m able to deliver a safe, progressive dance practice, while fine tuning my observation skills with individuals. In addition I will gain a recognised accreditation, which I hope will lead to referrals from GPs and physiotherapists.’

Katie-Lea Stevenson, the second bursary recipient will use her bursary to develop her choreography and dance techniques, and with the skills and confidence gained she will teach others both in the UK and abroad. Katie is currently volunteering and teaching dance in South Africa to township children. On receiving her bursary, Katie said: ‘The bursary will really help my personal journey of becoming a professional dancer and choreographer. It will enable me to fund and attend regular dance classes, so that my practice can develop. In addition, it will allow me to share my new skills with others. This award will be the next step towards my professional future in dance.’ 

Peter Abbott added: ‘Norma’s love of dance gave our family the impetus to create the bursary. We hope Katie-Lea and Faye will go on to pursue their dance careers as a result of the award. It’s great that the memory of Norma will live on in such a creative way and we look forward to seeing how both their careers progress in the future.’

Image: Julia Nottingham – L-R: Front – Peter Abbott, Faye O’Connor, Dorothy Wilson (mac CEO and Artistic Director). Back: Friends of Norma Abbott.

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For press enquiries please call Marcia Springer, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer on 0121 446 3237 or email marcia.springer@macbirmingham.co.uk.

‘Enabling people to dance who often believe they can’t due to their diminishing physical ability or lack of cognitive capacity has been immensely rewarding. This bursary will help to ensure I’m able to deliver a safe, progressive dance practice, while fine tuning my observation skills with individuals. In addition I will gain a recognised accreditation, which I hope will lead to referrals from GPs and physiotherapists.’

Faye O'Connor

‘Norma’s love of dance gave our family the impetus to create the bursary. We hope Katie-Lea and Faye will go on to pursue their dance careers as a result of the award. It’s great that the memory of Norma will live on in such a creative way and we look forward to seeing how both their careers progress in the future.’

Peter Abbott