Christchurch dance director awarded for backstage effort
Lyn Cotton wins Attitude's TV's Making a Difference Award
Lyn Cotton, director of integrated dance company Jolt, has worked tirelessly to give people with disabilities a voice through performance.
At the national Attitude Awards on World Disability Day, on 3 December, Lyn was up on stage herself, as the recipient of the Making A Difference Award
The national awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of Kiwis living with a disability. The Awards have grown out of the Attitude TV series, which screens on TV ONE on Sunday mornings at 8.30am. The overall Attitude ACC Supreme Award was taken out by champion Paralympic swimmer Mary Fisher.
Attitude Awards Trustee Dan Buckingham, a member of the elite national wheelchair rugby team the Wheel Blacks, says the Awards are about raising expectations around what is achievable for people living with disabilities.
“Last night we celebrated winners across a range of categories, but really the aim of the Awards is to change peoples’ perceptions about this broad and diverse sector of society. So in that sense, all 24 finalists are winners and fantastic role models,” he said.
Originally trained as a drama teacher, Lyn was introduced to the world of integrated dance in 1995 while teaching in London. She was inspired by renowned choreographer and artistic director Wolfgang Strange and performed with his company Amici across Europe.
“I watched Wolfgang create a dance with a severely physically and intellectually disabled student,” Lyn says. “The dance moved me because it never sought to impose a structure on the student, but instead allowed him to express his own creativity.”
Fuelled with a passion for dance, Lyn returned to New Zealand in 2001 and brought her vision of a local integrated dance class to fruition. What began as one class soon blossomed into Jolt Dance. Today Jolt has eight classes for all ages and abilities and three performance companies have grown from the classes: Jolt Dance Company established in 2002, Jolt Youth in 2007 and Jolt Interactive in 2012, funded by Creative NZ.
Most recently, Lyn’s passion has been directed into establishing Move, New Zealand’s first integrated dance tutor training scheme, in which Jolt Dancers are trained as teachers. Two of Move’s trainees are about to start running their own classes. Lyn says it’s a joy to see participants who have been performing with Jolt for years share their skills with others.
As well as dedicating her time to running Jolt, Lyn contributes many hours to other arts initiatives, including supporting mainstream artists and teachers to be more inclusive, ensuring fair pay and conditions for dancers and contributing to arts policy.
Other Attitude Award winners are Matthew Weir (Courage In Sport), Craig Jessop (Spirit of Attitude), Corey Peters (Sport Performer of the Year) Mary Fisher (Youth and ACC Supreme Award), Paul Barrett (Artistic Achievement), Selwyn Cook, SSC Service Stations (ACC Employer Award) and Muskan Devta (Junior). John Baldwin Munro was inducted in the Attitude Hall of Fame and Jess Quinn took home the People’s Choice Award.
The Making A Difference category is sponsored by the Ministry of Health. Other sponsors supporting the awards include: Drake Medox, Invacare, Barfoot & Thompson, IHC Foundation, Westpac, Air New Zealand, Wayne Francis Charitable Trust and The Lion Foundation.