Dancers excel in Edinburgh

Newcastle’s Beginners Jazz gave it their all in Edinburgh. Image: Robyn Barber

Newcastle Dance Society enjoyed yet another successful day in Edinburgh last Saturday at their first national competition of 2017, bringing home four trophies amongst several other nominations from the notoriously tough competition.

Hosted by Edinburgh University at the historical, crystal chandelier-bearing Assembly Rooms, the Dance-Off welcomed 17 different universities to compete in over six different styles of dance throughout the day.

It was well known that the competition would be extremely difficult, with entrants such as St. Andrew’s, Manchester and Funkology (Imperial College London) triumphing in previous years. But not even the 5 a.m. wake-up call could dampen the spirits of the Newcastle Dance Club competitors, all of whom excelled on what was yet another fantastic day for the society.

First to take to the stage were our Beginners Contemporary group who immediately wowed the judges with their artistic piece, earning themselves an impressive two nominations from the judges for “Best Choreography” of the day. Our Advanced Contemporary girls soon followed, performing a fantastically energetic piece to an audience of over 600 spectators and five highly-experienced judges.

“It was well known that the competition would be extremely difficult”

Our beautiful Beginners Ballerinas stunned in a category which emphasised just how much the standard of the beginners groups has risen in recent years. Previously, moves such as the double pirouette would perhaps not have been considered as beginners level, yet this year they appeared in abundance.

Newcastle’s Advanced Ballerinas then demonstrated their grace, elegance and control in a striking performance, looking radiant in shades of black, pink and maroon as they did so.

Worthy of their first place trophy were our Beginners Jazz group with a fabulous musical-theatre style piece which had the entire auditorium up on their feet – especially at the fierce performance from Safwan Ahman, playing a curious bystander interested in joining in on the girls’ high-energy moves.

The stand out performances in this sass-filled dance resulted in a nomination for Safwan as “Best Male Dancer” of the day, as well as a remarkable four nominations for Fola Solanke as “Best Female Dancer”, all of which were truly well deserved.

Continuing to bring the sass were our Advanced Jazz ladies, whose incredibly technical performance to Beyoncé’s “Why Don’t You Love Me” showcased high-kicks, fouettés and head rolls galore in what was certainly one of the toughest categories of the day.

Our fantastic tap dancers were up next, securing another two trophies for Newcastle in a duo of spectacular, highly-skilled performances. Our Beginners group flawlessly tapped their way to third place in a lively fun-filled piece, before our Advanced team performed a captivating routine choreographed by four-time soloist champion Louisa Barnard, bringing home the second third-place trophy of the day.

The penultimate category saw the Beginners Street crew take to the stage in a fantastically choreographed piece which fused dancehall, hip-hop and Afro-dance styles, unlucky not to place in the busiest category of the day with a total of twelve entrants.

“Newcastle’s Advanced Ballerinas then demonstrated their grace, elegance and control in a striking performance”

Advanced Street’s performance then continued to mix up the genres, incorporating both house dance and old school hip-hop into their vibrant piece, ultimately securing themselves a third place trophy as well as scoring an impressive full marks from one of the judges on the day.

Last and most certainly not least, our Lyrical team gave a highly emotive performance to Lady Gaga’s “Speechless” as Newcastle’s Wildcard entry, in what is always an exciting, yet equally challenging, category. Manchester’s enchanting Irish Dance piece however went on to win the group, with both Manchester and St Andrew’s having hugely successful days as expected.

Speaking of Newcastle’s success, Dance Society President Rebecca Bainbridge exclaimed: “It was great to see the immense improvement of the teams from our last competition. I have always been proud to be president of such a talented society but this weekend I was so happy to witness the teamwork and positive attitudes of all our dancers.

“All of the dancers should be as proud as I am about the hard work they put in leading up to the competition and that we gave some really strong teams a run for their money!”

Returning to the Toon with four trophies, five “Best Dancer” nominations and two “Best Choreography” nominations in the bag, the entire 70 member strong Newcastle team were ultimately winners – particularly considering the short rehearsal time afforded after the January exam period and the incredibly high standard of performance in Edinburgh this year.

The society will now prepare to host its very own Dance Competition at the Sage Theatre on Saturday 18th February in which the university will undoubtedly continue their ongoing success in what has so far been a sensational year for dance.

DANCER OF THE COMPETITION: Fola Solanke

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