“And the winners are….”

Liam Pywell and Alexandra Stainton!

We are pleased to announce that at the recent Carl Alan Awards ceremony Liam and Alex won an award for “Outstanding Classical Sequence Partnership”. The Carl Alan awards are like the Oscars of the dance world where dancers from all around the world are recognised for their contribution to dance in different categories.

Liam and Alex have been nominated previously but were sucessful on this occasion. It was a pity that Alex was not able to be there in person at the ceremony since she is still “down under” but is nevertheless delighted to have received the award.

Our sincerest congratulations to both of you on this well deserved achievement. Boris is very pleased with you both although Liam and Alexandra bear want to know if that means they will also get one!

NATD Ballroom Qualifier

It was not such an early morning this time as the event was on our doorstep. We ventured to Kirkby in Ashfield for the second NATD qualifier for the Blackpool Tower medallist finals. We had pretty much a full team turnout and although it was essentially an in-house affair it was still good for everyone to gain some “match practice”.

Lessons are vital, of course, but you cannot replicate the effect of getting dressed up in your dance clothes and performing in front of a panel of adjudicators and a knowledgeable audience, which is essential for those looking to do well in competitions.

Naturally everyone managed to qualify and so will be eligible to dance at Blackpool which will be a whole new and exciting experience for some. There were some good performances today with many people raising their game, owhich they will need to do at the Tower, particularly in the couples events where some people had been put together without much practice and still managed to give a good account of themselves. The juveniles especially have some difficult dances to perform and all of them rose to the occasion well.

The highlight of the day was the “all in” Ragtime Swing which was a change partner event and had a real sociable feel to it. Juveniles, juniors and adults all partnered each other and everyone had a smile on their faces as they danced around. The finalist in order of merit were: Jack and Dawn, Craig and Carla, Andrew and Carol, Paige and Allison, Ellie and Karly and Grace and Phoebe. Well done to everyone for entering into the spirit of the event.

Of course Boris and his merry band of bears (and Arabella) were in attendance to lead the cheers and keep a keen eye on proceedings and the support from all the parents and followers was terrific. 

Well done to everyone who came along today, it was a real team effort in which everyone played their part.

We have a slight lull in the competitions over the next few weeks as we work hard for the exams in two weeks before we start again in June and the run up to Blackpool!

Southport Easter Festival

Easter turned out to be a real scorcher this year and not just because we had four days of warm sunny weather but we were at the Southport Easter Festival with three days of action packed sequence competitions. The team this year consisted of Josh & Grace, Stuart & Andrea, Neil & Carla, Andrew & Dawn and Craig & Emma.

The competitions began about 2pm on Friday and we finished around 11.30pm on the Sunday night (not continually I might add) but nevertheless quite an endurance test for those who were spectating as well as the dancers.

Friday saw all couples in action with Craig & Emma winning both of their events closely followed by Neil & Carla in second place and Andrew & Dawn in fourth in the same events. Stuart & Andrea won one of their events and came second in the other whilst Josh & Grace finished fifth in their event. A good start to the weekend then, could it be repeated over the next two days?

Boris was pleased to see that Liam bear came along but was disappointed to see the neither Alexandra or Logan were in attendance. Some said that Alexandra had gone to Australia with her namesake but Boris thought this unlikely. the two Liam’s were able to console each other however at having been dumped by their respective partners!

The team were back in action on the Saturday and again won all of their events with Neil and Carla keeping them on their toes in second and Andrew & Dawn also made all of their finals as well. Stuart & Andrea were placed second in one of their events and third in the other two whilst Josh & Grace made all of their finals. Saturday night ended with a party which gave everyone a chance to mingle with fellow competitors and attendees away from the competitive environment and it was good to see all ages mixing together in this way, which is what the festivals are all about.

After a brief interlude for sleep we were back in action once again on the Sunday which began with a visit from The Easter Bunny (aka Louise). Today saw the revival of the Southport Eight Dance events which are a test of  both memory and stamina in addition to ability. Once again Craig & Emma took top honours with Carla & Neil in third and Andrew & Dawn in fifth. In the Senior eight dance event Stuart & Andre finished third whilst Josh & Grace were sixth in their event. Not only did the dancers have the eight dance events to contend with but they had other competitions as well with Craig & Emma repeating the, by now, familiar pattern of winning with Neil & Carla in second and Andrew & Dawn also making the final.

The finale of the weekend came with the open Latin sequence event which was a five dance event including the challenging Tauromachia Paso Doble. This proved quite a test for some of our dancers who nevertheless applied themselves and acquitted themselves admirably on the night. Josh & Grace finished third with Craig & Emma fourth, Neil & Carla fifth and Andrew & Dawn sixth.

We finally retired to the bar to relive the highlights and contemplate another highly enjoyable and successful weekend.

Boris also made some new friends, Gordon and Sybil, who he was very pleased to meet and hopes they may put in an appearance at future events.

“Boris in his penthouse suite”

No long to draw breath before the NATD qualifier next Sunday which hopefully will lead to another enjoyable and successful weekend in July. 

NATD Latin Qualifier

Yesterday the team set forth to Daventry for the first of the NATD Blackpool qualifiers. There were some familiar faces along with some who were dipping their toe into this kind of event for the first time and all hoping to qualify for a place to dance at the iconic Blackpool Tower ballroom.

We have been to Daventry on previous occasions but not since it has been a qualifying event so it was a new experience for many. This time the events were for the Latin qualifiers with the ballroom ones being held later in the month. The standard is always quite high here particularly in the lower age groups and so all the juveniles who managed to qualify did particularly well.

Congratulations then to Phoebe, Lewie, Tabatha, April, Chloe, Brooke, Isobel, Paige, Grace S, Fearn, Brian, Heather, Sian, John, Carol, Kathryn, Georgina, Peter, Jack, Alison T, Chris, Serena, Karly, Paul, Carla, Allison, Neil, Karen, Xingye, Dawn, Andrew, Hazel, Debbie and Rosalind who all managed to secure their place at Blackpool.

As mentioned the largest entries were in the Juvenile age groups and so Phoebe did very well to make the final 10 with her Samba, a difficult dance at any age. Lewie secured fourth also with his samba and April and Tabatha finished second and fourth with their rumbas. Brooke and Chloe made it a one-two in their samba event by being placed first and second, Paige and Isobel, in their event secured second and third whilst Grace S had a “dance off” for her second place and Fearn finished fifth in the same event. There were first places today for Jack, Chris, Serena, Paul, Allison, Neil, Karen, Dawn, Andrew and Rosalind so well done to everyone who took part, there was a great team spirit as always and lots of support for all the team.

There followed the annual Ragtime Swing events which always have by far the largest entries and today was no exception with all three events requiring two heats and several recalls. Chloe and Brooke made it to the semi final of their event and Jack & Isobel finished second in their event with Paige and Grace not far behind in fourth. Paul & Karen made it to the final finishing second as did Andrew & Dawn who were placed fifth. No trophies this time but well done to everyone who took part particularly the impromptu partnerships.

Finally we made it to the ballroom couples events and once again the team enjoyed successes. April & Tabatha were second in their event as were Lewie and Phoebe. Chloe & Brooke were placed fourth in their event and Paige & Grace S were fifth with their quickstep. There were wins for Jack & Isobel, Paul & Karen and Andrew & Dawn with Chris & Serena and Peter & Carol securing second places in their events only being beaten by others from our school. Ellie & Kaitlyn narrowly missed out on winning the Rose Bowl by being placed second but danced their Cha Cha Cha very well together.

Thank you to all the supporters, it made for very enjoyable day and also to Luke for coming along to help with partnering.

Boris was pleased to see so many of his chums and was especially pleased to welcome new recruit Hector to the family and to hear that he was being well treated in his new home.

The next outing will be 28th April for “part two” make sure you don’t miss it.

ISTD Sequence Qualifier

Yesterday was the ISTD Sequence Qualifier and Inventive Dance competition and once again the team turned out in force. Since this is only a qualifier for the Blackpool three dance events it is usually a short day and the entries are usually small but nevertheless it gives some the opportunity to qualify that haven’t already done so and valuable floor experience for those that have, which cannot be replicated in lessons.

As usual the support from all of our team was fantastic and there were wins today for April, Jack, Grace P, Neil, Dawn and Carla. Unfortunately in April’s category she was the only one and so had to dance on her own (partnered by Liam of course) which is no easy task. However she rose to the occasion and produced a seemingly nerveless performance.

Well done to everyone today both dancers and supporters for showing great team support and unity. Once again we need to thank our team of helpers; Ruth, Liam, Luke, Grace P, Josh and Emily for partnering, Jean and Maria for helping on the door and Julie for helping with the music.

There is a brief interlude now before a busy April with some of you competing at  the Southport Easter Sequence festival and also we have the two NATD qualifiers which we hope you will all support even if you can’t make the finals at Blackpool.

The Mystery Blogger Strikes Back

The first Sunday in March meant the first Dancesteps competition of the year. So early, especially for all of us adult competitors who are used to a later start, on a grey and rainy day we found ourselves in Kirkby in Ashfield and for the first time, for many of us, at a new venue The Festival Hall.

The Duesbury Aldred Dance School was out in force with an impressive mix of dancers and spectators taking up the entire length of one side of the room. For some there was first competition nerves mingling in with the nerves of the more seasoned competitors but once the music started, we were off.

No one disappointed. We were thoroughly entertained with a fabulous display of dancing, in the individual sections, from the very youngest, special mention must go to little Olivia, to the oldest of the team. Everyone performing at their very best. And not forgetting those partnering who worked incredibly hard to help all the dancers shine even earning themselves the odd shiny face for their efforts.

Louise, who had luckily regained her voice, kept the competition moving along helped by many well-known faces and a new assistant who oversaw the music. Before we knew it, the couple’s competition was announced. This was the last of the categories for most of us, including myself, and we saw some new pairings alongside the familiar. Again, everyone worked really hard putting into practice all the training that goes on during the week.

Then came the presentations which represented another first. The rewarding of tokens to all the adult competitors who had made a final instead of a trophy. These are to be exchanged for donations to the charity we were able to vote for on the day. A fantastic idea that I hope will definitely be repeated.

The Dance School received great results, across all the age groups, with many of our competitors making a final. Well done to everybody. It is great to see all your hard work rewarded.

Last, but not least, the one thing that was not a first is the amazing support and enthusiastic cheering that our Dance School generates every time we have dancers on the floor. You all make it a pleasure to be part of.

I look forward to the next competition.

Dancesteps Competition 2019

Looking at the unseasonably warm, sunny weather we have been enjoying recently it seems hard to imagine that at this event last year we were in the grip of “The Beast From The East” and a number of people were unable to attend due to the snow!

Once more our team of dedicated dancers gathered for our competition this time at a new venue in Kirkby in Ashfield which although a little further out for some, it suited our needs and provided a cosy atmosphere. At our own events our regular team are joined by some less experienced dancers, as well as some first timers. We also had several who although not new to competitions were dancing with us at this event for the first time.

Boris always looks forward to these events as he gets the chance to catch up with old chums he doesn’t get to see too often and was pleased to see Arabella once more. There is always a friendly, team atmosphere and this was once again in evidence. Our more experienced competitors also get the chance to “step up to the plate” and partner some of the less experienced ones as well as compete themselves.

First timers at this event were Olivia Rose, Ashton, Sian and George who all gave a good account of themselves. Sian and George were placed first and second in their waltz event and Sian also won her latin event. Olivia Rose came third with her walks and points and Ashton made the final of the ballroom couples event with Phoebe. A good first outing and hopefully one to build on for the future.

Dancers had come from as far away as Hull and Newbury and many of the events had good levels of entries and also a good standard of dancing. For some of our dancers it was an opportunity to measure themselves against dancers from other schools in preparation for their attempts to qualify for the “Blackpool experience” with the NATD in April. Which is an exciting addition to our dancing calendar this year.

There were numerous finalists and everyone danced really well but  making it onto the top step of the podium this time were: Kaitlyn, Jack, Craig, Chris, Peter, Molly, Karly, Allison, Grace P, Tabatha, Sian, Chloe, Lewie, Karen, Serena, Carol, Paul and Brooke. Also winning their couples events were: Paul & Karen, Craig & Karly,Grace P & Molly and Jack & Grace S. Apart from the winners there were also a number who made finals that perhaps did not expect to so well done to everyone who took part.

Another new innovation at this event was our charity donation scheme. Many of our regular competitors acquire a good many trophies over the years which is great since it means they are doing well, but it does also mean they run out of space for them at home. Furthermore they are not entirely environmentally friendly being made of plastic and marble. Whilst acknowledging that younger dancers and newer competitors like to have mementos of their achievements and taking your feedback into account we decided that we could donate the money used to buy the trophies to good causes.

We therefore introduced a token scheme for our adult competitors who received tokens instead of trophies which they could then place into the collection box of the charity of their choice. This time the chosen charities were Diabetes UK, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance and the British Wildlife Trusts. The amount to be donated to each charity will be proportion to the tokens placed in each box and were as follows: Diabetes UK 33%, Air Ambulance 47%, Wildlife Trusts 20%. Anyone wishing to exchange their tokens for a trophy or trophy for a token was welcome to do so but we hope you felt it was a worthwhile exercise. Please let us have your feedback and if popular we may extend it to our junior dancers next time. If feedback is positive then we will aim to support different charities each year.

Thanks once again to our team of helpers: Jean, Julie, Andrew, Rob and Debbie and of course the partners: Luke, Liam, Ruth, Karen, Grace P, Emily, Molly, Craig, Jack who have all come along willingly to lessons and classes to practise with their respective charges. A huge thank you to everyone we couldn’t do it without you.

Boris wore his paws to the bone with all the clapping but now has a short break before we have the next event which will be the ISTD Sequence Qualifier on 17th March followed closely by the NATD qualifiers in April. Make sure you don’t miss out!!

ISTD Castleford

The second ISTD qualifier of the year was at Castleford and we turned out with a slightly reduced team to gain those all important qualifying places for Blackpool. The children’s events saw Lewie, April, Paige, Grace S and Jack all in action and all reached the finals of their ballroom events. All except Lewie also reached their Latin finals, although reaching the final with his Waltz was a great achievement since he is only six and had to dance in the under 8 years section.

April made a fifth and third in her events, Paige two seconds, Grace S a fourth and third and Jack two second places. All our dancers had to be recalled at least once to make their finals so had to earn their places. Jack and Grace also came third in both of their couples events.

The adults day began with the sequence events and most of these had large entries. All our dancers had at least one recall except the Over 35 years which was a straight final. Olivia, Craig and Libbie all made their final, finishing fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. In the Over 35 years event Paul came first with Karen, Serena and Chris filling the next three places. Making the finals of the Over 50 years event were Andrew and Allison who came first and second respectively with Peter making his first final in this event and finishing sixth. Well done to you all.

The ballroom, and latin events followed and although the numbers in these were low there were still some good dancers to beat. Debbie was the only one with a recall in her events but ended up winning both, a great achievement. There were also first places for Olivia, Peter, Carol, Hazel, Paul, Allison, Karen and Andrew.

The couple’s events usually allow everyone to relax a bit more, especially with some impromptu partnerships.

In the ballroom events there were wins for Chris and Serena with Peter and Carol second in the same event which was repeated in the latin. Craig and Libbie came first in their ballroom event with Paul and Karen closely behind in second. Then in the Paso Doble Craig and Charlotte B won, repeating their success from Blackpool. Olivia and Emily came second in their ballroom event. Charlotte S first with Charlotte B in the ballroom and then with Emily in the latin made a respectable fifth in both events after some last minute partnership rearrangements.

A good day all round with most of those qualifying who needed to although, there is still work to be done of course.

Boris was pleased to welcome McKenzie to the club who came in full Highland dress (complete with sporran) although he was quite pleased he hadn’t brought his skean dhu. Once again our thanks go to the partners of course; Liam, Emily and for the first time in the sequence events, Olivia.

The next outing is only a couple of weeks away which is our own event, this time at a new venue. As always it provides some of our less experienced dancers with a chance to test their skills on the competition floor and also our more experienced dancers the chance to step up and partner.

It promises to be a great day, don’t miss it!!!!

Medal Presentation Dance

Last Sunday afternoon was the annual medal  presentation and dance, held at George Spencer Academy. Over a hundred dancers and their families and friends came along for an enjoyable afternoon of dancing, socialising and the tempting cakes made by the FROGS, all presided over by Boris of course.

The children treated the audience to a display of their work including dances such as the Waltz, Cha Cha Cha, Tango, Jive and Paso Doble. The older children and young adults next entertained with a montage of latin dances to music from The Greatest Showman and then Liam and Alex gave us a beautiful demonstration of a mix of Classical Sequence and ballroom.

As many of you will know, Alex will soon be departing for Australia, to work, for a while. We all wish her well but hope that she will return in the not too distant future. In recognition of Alex and Liam’s successful Amateur careers and their contribution to the school in terms of partnering and lessons, without whom we would not be able to take as many as we do to Blackpool, we decided that they were worthy recipients of the School Award for last year.

As always we had a raffle in aid of Cancer Research with many of the prizes generously donated. This year we raised £93, a great effort thank you.

All too soon the afternoon came to a close but hope everyone enjoyed themselves and we look forward to seeing you at an event soon