When last year’s World Para Dance Sport Championships ended in Bonn, Erik Machens knew he had achieved more than two medals. He had planted a seed for his sport to grow in the German city and his country.
Nine months later, Machens was back in Bonn to give a workshop to almost 30 new Para dance sport enthusiasts who followed an invitation to join the training session organised by TSC Blau-Gold-Rondo Bonn dance club on 6 September.
“They didn’t know each other but, within a few minutes, we were a community. Then, at the end, we were a group of dancers connected by common interests beyond the workshop,” Machens said.
The enthusiasm on his voice is the evidence of a successful event. Ambulant dancers and wheelchair users from other cities like Dusseldorf, Krefeld and Osnabruck joined the workshop.
With more than a decade dedicated to Para dance sport and podiums in three consecutive World Championships, Machens says the legacy of Bonn 2019 started even before the competition took place.
“The World Championships has helped this development and [increased] the curiosity about the sport. I still remember the day when we first discussed about the possibility of a workshop like this.”
That was the day when he first met Katrin Ryborz and Christian Trutzler from the Blau-Gold-Rondo club, during a training camp in the lead up to Bonn 2019.
“They had been invited because they were interested to dance in competitions together with wheelchair users. So we immediately felt we shared a common passion. Katrin asked me to help with some lessons of Para dance sport techniques and that is how it began,” Machens recalled.
Besides the project in Bonn, he has also given classes to Para dance beginners in cities like Rheine and Bad Harzburg.
With more invitations coming from other regions, Machens hopes Blau-Gold-Rondo’s initiative can set an example for more dance clubs across the country:
“Up till now there are only a few inclusive dance sport clubs for people who just want to dance regularly. By closing this gap to other sports, we will also be closing a gap in society because sport creates a dialogue and mutual understanding."
For Germany's number one, there is no doubt the legacy of Bonn 2019 will continue to grow.
“There is actually nothing more beautiful than impacting people and help them discover the abilities they have hidden inside. Sport in general, and Para dance in particular, have the power to advance social development, to connect people and I’m personally very grateful for these experiences.”