Inclusive International Family Day 2023

SESTAA (Society for Empowerment, Service, Training and Awareness, Australia) celebrated International Day of Families on 20th May 2023 with a vibrant and colourful, all-inclusive musical programme showcasing talents of all ages and abilities.

The programme included contemporary dance performance by Emotion21 (Inclusion Foundation for people with Down Syndrome), para dancing by Dance & Roll (Winner of Darebin Community Award), instrumental music by students from Keys of Life program (Sharing instrumental music socially), High St Bells Choir (Singing for Joy), Bollywood dance troupe of SESTAA and REAL Inc. participants, the Vibe Bollywood dance group and solo performances by Neel Rastogi and Charlie Smith.

The event was run smoothly under the skilful guidance of the two MCs – Ben Chew from and Nivedita Jaggi, lawyer.

The evening went off to a great start with the beautiful repertoire of classical and modern songs by the High Street Bells Choir. The Choir was formed by Jenny Taylor in 2010 for people experiencing difficulty accessing other community choirs due to disability, injury, illness or other factors. The Choir impressed the audience with their renditions of ‘Dynamite’ and ‘I’ve got a ticket for the soul train, honey’.

Next, under the skilful guidance of choreographer Sohini Pawar from Bollywood Dance School Australia, Charlie Smith mastered the emotional range of the Bollywood theme and had the audience tapping their feet as he danced to ‘Malhari’ and the well-known ‘Naatu Naatu’ songs. Charlie is a founding member of the Tasmanian group Second Echo Ensemble, and has toured with the group to New Zealand, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne. Later in the event, Charlie also displayed his acting skills in his theatrical piece set to ‘Me and My Shadow’.

For the third performance of the afternoon, the participants from REAL Inc. (Rights, Employment, Accommodation and Leisure Incorporated) delighted the audience with their colourful medley of dances, starting with the classic ‘Macarena’, followed by some upbeat Bollywood songs. REAL Inc. provides opportunities to promote community inclusion and reduce isolation and disadvantages for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Following the REAL group’s performance, the audience was encouraged to learn some fun and energetic Bollywood moves from Sohini Pawar, an incredibly passionate and talented dancer and dance instructor from Melbourne Bollywood Dance School Australia. Sohini has taught workshops in schools and corporate events in India and performed at international Bollywood events such as the Indian Film Festival Awards and Filmfare Awards.

The energy and passion were maintained by Dance and Roll in their very first public performance – and they have certainly set a high bar for themselves. Their energy had so much heart and soul that it brought the audience to the dance floor and showed without a doubt that music and dance can bring the spirit of the community together.

In between the group performances, eight-year-old vocalist Neil Rastogi had the audience singing along with two strong performances. He immediately impressed the crowd with not only his technical skills, but his enthusiasm and confidence at such a young age. His excellent song choices had the audience engaged as they couldn’t help but join in, and we look forward to seeing where his talent takes him in the future.

We were also treated to a fantastic piano and violin performance by the students of Keys of Life, which brought tears to the eyes of the audience. Keys of Life is a group which fosters a supportive environment to give students individualised attention and access to quality musical education. Their performance was a testament to that, with each performer showing that disabilities and diverse learning needs are no barrier to excellence.

Vibe Choreography wowed us with their fantastic performance and we could see their passion come through in their performance. The group started in 2020 with the mission to encourage and develop passion for dancing among youth and encourages the ‘inclusive’ experience..

Last but not least, Emotion21 had the hard task of following all the previous outstanding performances and they did not disappoint. Their performance was an anthology of dance moments that invited the audience into the world-view, aspirations and fantasies of dancers with Down syndrome. The audience was both entertained and enriched by the performance and drawn into the dancing. Cate Sayers created Emotion21 in 2009 to provide dance classes and support for people with Down syndrome after seeing firsthand the opportunities her daughter was missing out on.

Putting together an event of this magnitude can be especially challenging for a small organisation like SESTAA, as we realised during the process of organising this event. But for our team of dedicated volunteers and Committee members, our collaborators like the Real Inc, Red Cross Blood donation group, donors and the support from Manningham City Council, this event would not have been possible.


Archive of the invitation:

Let’s celebrate International Family Day 2023 with a difference!

The performance will showcase of talents of e.motion21 dancers (Inclusion Foundation for people with Down Syndrome), para dancing by Dance & Roll (Winner of Darebin Community Award), Keys of Life (Sharing instrumental music socially), High St Bells Choir (Singing for Joy), Bollywood dance troupe of SESTAA and REAL Inc. participants and many other talented performers.

Day and date: Saturday, 20 May 2023

Venue: Performance Centre, Doncaster Secondary College, 123 Church Road, Doncaster 3108

Time: 3 pm onwards

Please book at Eventbrite to reserve your spot: CLICK HERE

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The event is supported by Manningham City Council. By attending this public event you agree to have your photo used for SESTAA promotional material.