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Pupils present Inventive, creative and varied Dance Show

This year’s A3 organisers headed up a fabulous show, ably aided by the A2 veterans, celebrating their last show, and over 20 other groups from across the year groups, some of whom choreographed their own work.

Poppy B, Olivia C, Ceire F, Zeynep K, Catherine S, Georgie S and Honor U took part in ten of the 24 numbers between them, just leaving time for some necessary costume changes in between! These numbers included a superb solo ballet performance from Catherine S that took the breath away from many, and a self-choreographed and sassy street number by the well-matched Zeynep K and Olivia C.

Last year’s organisers were keeping pace, with Arabella B and Lucy D in one duo and Florentine W, Chloe E and surprise performer Lucy F providing their own energetic and polished street numbers.

The variety on offer was marked, with teachers’ choreography creatively providing a variety of moods, cultural shifts and time periods.

In particular Bryony Holder’s street numbers were hugely inventive, creative and varied, with a slinky Spanish-themed Advanced number for A2 opening the show with a bang, a perfectly polished rebellious school number from D Street, a fabulously lively 1960s B Street number in platform boots, and a sparkling 1920s party number from another Advanced group with some fabulous Charleston dancing. These contrasted with yet a third Advanced Street number, still high energy, but relaxed-street style choreography, and two inventive street items for C and B, again incredibly well-drilled and remarkable for the size of each group, all attuned and giving it their all.

The costumes most definitely played their part in shaping the style of each group and the fabulous octagonal plates at the back and sides reflected colour and projections, changing the style and feel of each number. Well done to the Coade Hall technical and design staff for their hard work, especially coming off the back of this term’s JDS play and A3 Festival and demanding quick turn arounds. Thank you to James Henshaw’s team, Jezz Davies, Will Geeson, and Charlie Helbert, on their setting, lighting and projections, which were based on just a film of each number taken during their 15 minute sessions. Quite an achievement.

Contemporary numbers were just as varied with Sam Frampton’s beginner group fluctuating between lyrical and acrobatic sections and Bryony’s three other groups suggesting interesting narratives through the movement – Contemporary 2D's controversial aggressor/victim number was quite harrowing in what it evoked, and Contemporary 3D's beautifully lyrical yet powerful number and Contemporary Dimensions’ nostalgic, restless pillow number were two of my personal favourites in the show.

Under Sam Frampton’s care, tap played a small and effective part again this year, with the microphones picking up the challenge of this difficult art and the skill of Emilia and Leila; and the Boys' Group also demonstrated their growing skill in some fast paced sections and super acrobatics - Royce C’s physical prowess provided a real wow factor towards the end, and we are sad to say goodbye to Tom L and Royce in their final show, alongside Arabella B, Lucy D, Chloe E, Nicki H, Anoushka T, Jessie M, Sally T, Florentine W, Safia W (she of the amazing acrobatic leaps), Alice P, Elisei S,  Mary G, India F, Ellie C, Claudia DV, all of whom have been such an integral part of dance shows, for up to the last five years. If I have missed anyone out it is a definite oversight! The A2s have so many strong dancers.

On this note, the cast was strengthened by some fabulous additional A2s this year, who were really dedicated and, despite many obstacles, put in the time and discipline to explore a new skill and totally pull it off. My personal thanks to Selina P, Max T, Joe CJ, Anthony FS, Oliver L (whose death-defying, awesome acrobatics around school will also be missed, and should certainly have featured in dance shows more!), Alex S (someone who has proved he only needs a week of rehearsal for any dance number), Elliot F and Tommy H. And my thanks also to those who fell by the wayside due to ill health, Katie B, Cam T, Freddie D, Lucy F and  Henry H, we missed you on the stage.

Finally, it was clear to see that ballet is moving from strength to strength with some really superb performances from Catherine S and Sastiana L, and the large numbers in Grade 7 putting on a lovely show with their romantic tutus and fans. With very well polished numbers from those in Grade 4 and Grade 5, bearing tambourines and stately colourful Spanish costumes respectively, and using them beautifully to characterise their dances, the ballet was a real strength. We have never had such challenging pointe numbers in the show before, which demonstrated the superb development of this sophisticated skill under the care of Janet Knight who was responsible for all the ballet numbers.

The audience of A3 and A2 on Friday was without question the most supportive audience possible and D,C and B also did well on Saturday. The reception was really heartening overall, so thank you. I also understand that money collected on the door added another £150 or so to the A2 charity, so well done to parents and pupils for that addition to such a well deserved cause.. 

Jane Quan