Dancers dominate in Durham

Jazz hands: the intermediate Jazz team placed 3rd in their category. Image: Katherine Smith

Competition season for Newcastle Dance Society finally began last weekend as we took to the stage at Durham Dance Fusion.

With 5 other teams attending we knew we were up against stiff competition, with St Andrews and York both having strong reputations for their incredible choreography, whilst Durham, Lancaster and York St John have all proven in the past to pull out amazing performances year on year.

Nevertheless, we felt prepared to face the competition with our teams ready to bring all that was necessary to win the trophies, and set a precedent for the rest of the season. There had only been the opportunity for five official rehearsals to perfect the choreography and sync the fresh-faced new teams before we were to perform, meaning we knew it was going to be a tough one to place in.

“In the advanced section, our team made no mistake in showing off what they could do, with impressive high kicks and a striking number of turns”

First to the stage were our tap teams, with our intermediate team smashing their dance. Their timing was impeccable, bringing an extremely strong start to not only the section, but the competition as a whole, setting the bar high for the following teams. Our Advanced Tap team, with their flawless technique, gave an excellent performance and was the hardest to perform compared to other universities.

This was choreographed by Louisa Barnard, who then took on the wildcard section herself in a tap solo, alongside our other soloist Sophie Lynch. Her ballet was absolutely mesmerising, stunning the audience as she made it look easy dancing ‘en pointe’ (a French ballet term for dancing on the tip of toes in a wooden block shoe).

After a short break, the modern dance sections were up next. Intermediate Jazz were super sassy in their performance and style, making it stand out amongst the other, very similar dances in the category. Controversially, St Andrews followed our performance, only to throw in a move that is prohibited at the intermediate level of dance.

4 trophies, won in Tap, Street, Jazz and the solo wildcard

In the advanced section, our team made no mistake in showing off what they could do, with impressive high kicks and a striking number of turns, all to an extremely fast paced piece of music. Worth noting in this section was York’s Advanced Jazz team, their exciting lifts, turns and a style original to them had the whole auditorium including other teams giving them a standing ovation, the standard was high in this section.

Contemporary marked a change in pace after the modern. Yvonne Chiu’s vision made for an interesting piece of choreography, the dancers portraying birds was relayed effectively throughout whilst other teams focused more towards solemn, typical styles of contemporary dance.

Our penultimate section was ballet, with the intermediate team presenting an unusual piece of music to go alongside their dance; their black tutus highlighted the stunningly beautiful dance arrangement that alluded to swan lake.

The Advanced Ballet showcased the strength of our dancers, with exquisite extensions of the leg that they made seem effortless, despite the enormous amount of skill required in such a performance.

Street dance: the Advanced Street team impressed the judges and audience alike. Image: Katherine Smith

Street dance: the Advanced Street team impressed the judges and audience alike. Image: Katherine Smith

In immediate contrast the street dance section followed. Clean and sharp, the choreography was incredible with an immense amount of power behind it. The dancers clearly enjoyed this routine as did the audience who did not stop cheering throughout.

With the sections over, the suspense built as we waited for the judges to decide on the results. The judges were a mix, from a professional street dancer to an ex-member of the royal ballet and a choreographer for the musical Billy Elliot, we had to impress them all as our places were point-based.

We started off with success as our Intermediate Tap team placed a wonderful 3rd in their section, only with more trophies to follow: 2nd for the street team, a notoriously hard category to place in, as well as the amazing Louisa Barnard deservingly retaining her 1st place in the wildcard section for her solo.

Our Intermediate Jazz team also came in at 3rd place, as the penalised St Andrews team still achieved 1st place, despite competition etiquette assuming that their illegal move would result in disqualification. As this didn’t occur, it caused dispute amongst the other teams, who had the skill to perform the same move, but had abided by the rules.

“Their timing was impeccable, bringing an extremely strong start to not only the section, but the competition as a whole”

Overall, Newcastle Dance Society won a staggering 4 trophies at the weekend, with Competition Secretary Hannah Davies stating that the team “did Newcastle proud”, and praised them for their conduct on the day.

President Rebecca Bainbridge commended the dancers for their commitment to the society, as well as commenting on how proud she was to be president of such a talented group of individuals, though suggested everyone should now have a little rest before preparing for the next competition in Edinburgh in February.

Whether a dance placed on the day is irrelevant, the hard work comes before the actual day, with dancers spending hours out of their week repeating the same steps, whilst many also choreographing the dances themselves.

It takes a next level of hard work, dedication and stamina, so next time you say dance isn’t a sport, just remember they can kick you in the face no matter how tall you are!

Jazz hands: the intermediate Jazz team placed 3rd in their category. Image: Katherine Smith

Team effort: performances in competitions rely on the dancers’ hours of hard work in training beforehand. Image: Newcastle University Dance Club

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