Andrew Self, Man With Down Syndrome, Competes on BBC's 'The Greatest Dancer'
BBC’s new dance competition “The Greatest Dancer” aired its first episode on Saturday and featured a crowd-pleasing performance from aspiring dancer Andrew Self.
A Simon Cowell production, the show has dancers from different styles compete to impress the audience. Dancers begin their dance routine in a closed studio, if 75 percent of the audience votes for them, the mirror opens up to reveal the live audience and the three “captains”: Otlile Mabuse, Matthew Morrison and Cheryl.
Self, a 21-year-old with Down syndrome, performed an original dance to Justin Timberlake’s “Sunshine in My Pocket.” In a short clip for the BBC, Self said he taught himself to dance. He dances contemporary, ballet and ballroom. “Having Down syndrome, it doesn’t stop me doing anything,” he said.
Born with Down’s syndrome Andrew taught himself to dance. pic.twitter.com/xlhMpFSnS4
— BBC Three (@bbcthree) January 5, 2019
Related: What Does an Inclusive Church Look Like for Kids With Disabilities?
Self was accompanied by his mother, who shared he began dancing when he was 11 years old. Since then, dance has given him confidence and self-esteem. Self’s performance, complete with a split, won the audience over advancing him to the “call back” round. Self will need to be selected by one of the three captains to move on to the live performance round. Each captain can only pick three dancers.
At the end of his performance, Self was visibly moved and excited by the response he received. His mother joined him and his best friend Tom came to the stage to congratulate him with a hug.
Related: Dear General Education Teacher, Thank You for Embracing Inclusion
Jordan Banjo, the show’s co-host, took to Twitter to congratulate Self on his performance.
Andrew, you are a legend mate, thank you so much for that beautiful audition! That’s what dance is about❤️ and thank you for bringing your best mate Tom, might have to steal him as my best friend???????????? #GreatestDancer #TGD
— Jordan Banjo (@Jordan_Banjo) January 5, 2019
Related: Yes, Kids With Down Syndrome Can Be Raised Bilingual
Self’s performance was well received by fans tuning in, some who claim “The Greatest Dancer” may be their new favorite show.
Just watching @GreatDancerTV and its filling me with happiness. When Andrew jumped up to Jorden it was an epic moment. Think this may be my new favourite programme @CherylOfficial @OtiMabuse @Matt_Morrison you’re all amazing
— Lindsey Eccleston (@LinzGalloway) January 6, 2019
Surprise new favourite programme – ‘The Greatest Dancer’. Didn’t expect to like it. Spent most of the time with a big smile on my face, apart from the couple of times I was moved to tears. Loved it! @GreatDancerTV
— Debra Allcock Tyler (@DebAllcockTyler) January 6, 2019
This had me in tears tonight , we need more love in this world ???? https://t.co/shVWSLlh6F
— Alison Hammond (@AlisonHammond2) January 5, 2019
OMG #greatestdancer andrew I'm in floods of tears. Such an emotional performance. New favourite show.
— Lucy Barber-Starkey (@LBarberStarkey) January 6, 2019
@GreatDancerTV Andrew was amazing and made a community so proud! And thanks to the judges, especially @Jordan_Banjo. Often people don't know how to act with our kids when they grow up, you kept it real and gave lesson to many. Thankyou #TheGreatestDancer #wouldntchangeathing
— Hayley | I am River (@hayley_iamriver) January 6, 2019
Andrew was brilliant! Love the inclusivity on this show ???????? #thegreatestdancer #TGD https://t.co/ojYM8rjPR1
— Gavin Drysdale (@Gav_DrysdaleRR) January 5, 2019
Love how #inclusive @GreatDancerTV is #enabling Andrew to feel comfortable having mum side of studio/stage #GreatestDancer
— MeetnMatch (@MeetnMatchNW) January 5, 2019
Watching a young man with Down’s dancing his heart out on #GreatestDancer @BBCOne. His brother then comes on stage! Pure love and happiness. Inclusion. Tears.
Where hearts and minds connect
— Mick Kay (@mickkay_) January 5, 2019
Greatest thing I’ve seen on tv for years go Andrew. I’m in bits mate #GreatestDancer
— Richard (@actionlocks22) January 5, 2019
One mom shared that her son, who also has Down syndrome, has not stopped dancing along to Self’s performance. “Role model right there!” she tweeted.
Sebby aged 5 who also happens to have #downssyndrome loves watching and dancing along to the incredibly talented @andrewdancer97 he’s not stopped watching @GreatDancerTV all morning! Role model right there! pic.twitter.com/JWvjZe8RDP
— Bex Fyans (@bexfyans) January 6, 2019
The show’s audition rounds will take place over the next three weeks. After that are the call backs and then the live challenge shows. U.K. viewers interested in watching can tune in to BBC One. For those without iPlayer can watch clips of the show online.
Read more stories like this on The Mighty:
Why This Mom Adopted Five Kids With Down Syndrome
What I Wish Doctors Had Said When My Child Was Diagnosed With Down Syndrome