Medal Presentation and Social Afternoon

One of the highlights of the year for many people is the medal presentation social dance at the George Spencer Academy. Over one hundred dancers together with their family and friends joined in for an afternoon of dancing and fun, in a relaxed environment. It was a chance to get together and renew acquaintances with other like minded people who we may not see at other events.

As usual the children gave a lovely display to show what they have been working on recently, partnered as always by the younger adults, many of whom themselves started with us at a young age. 

The younger adults then treated us to a demonstration based on Classical and Sequence dances set to music from Les Miserables, which was extremely well received by the audience. Many remarked that it was one of their favourite numbers. The routine was quite challenging this time and the participants only had about six weeks in which to learn it therefore doing incredibly well. We also had to contend with injuries and absences for various reasons which meant that we only had the opportunity for two rehearsals with a full team. Well done to everyone who took part.

The school award this year proved to be a difficult choice as we had two couples who had both been winning their respective sequence events all year culminating in wins at the British Sequence Championships in October. On this occasion we therefore decided it was right to make two school award presentations so congratulations to Craig and Emma and Neil and Carla for your hard work, dedication and success.

Boris was pleased to see some of his cousins in attendance and he says that he always looks forward to this event not least because of the delicious cakes provided by the FroGS. 

Our next couple of events are the ISTD qualifier at Castleford where there is some work to be done, for some people, in order to qualify for Grand Finals in November and then following this on 1st of March will be our own competition at Kirkby in Ashfield. This is a good opportunity for first timers and non regular competitors to dip their toe in the water and is usually a friendly and fun event. Make sure that you don’t miss out.

Day Out At Wicksteed Park

With Christmas and New Year out of the way it’s time to get back to the serious business of qualifying. The first ISTD event of the year is always Kettering and for those who have been regular attendees since the first one in 2013 will remember that we have had to battle with snow on more than one occasion.

However this year the weather was particularly mild and so without the elements the only thing we had to do battle with were the other competitors. Boris and his chums were raring to go, fresh from their Christmas break and looking forward to cheering everyone on.

With no juveniles dancing today and Jack having moved into the adult section only Grace S and Paige were in action in the children’s section. Many of the dancers here today will be the ones who need to be beaten to do well at Blackpool and so recalls and finals are hard to come by in many of the sections. Nevertheless they held their own against stiff competition with Grace S making the final with her Quickstep and Paige finishing second in her sequence event.

Next came the adults and their day began with the ballroom events. Again there was strong competition with recalls in many of the events. Finalists today were Jack, a great result in his first adult event and finishing second, Charlotte B, Carol, Peter, Emma (in her first qualifier with the school), Serena, Hazel, Dennis, Josh, Neil, Karen, Andrew and Dawn. In addition we had the following winners: Grace P, Chris, Paul, Allison and Sue.

Then followed the sequence three dance events and we had strong representation across all three age divisions. Making the final of the under 35 years section we had Grace P and Josh who were placed first and second with Emma, Emily and Craig filling fourth, fifth and sixth places in that order. In the over 35 years event Serena won, with Paul, Karen, Chris and Neil taking the following five places. Finally we had the over 50 years section in which there were seven recalled to the final. Andrew won with Allison, Dennis, Carla, Sue, Dawn and Peter filling the remaining places in that order.

That only left the Latin section and once again there were final placings for Debbie, Charlotte B, Grace P, Craig, Chris,Serena, Hazel, Paul, Josh, Neil and Karen. Winning their Latin events to complete their “double” were Allison and Sue.

A good days work then and congratulations to all taking part and as usual we had some terrific support from the rest of the team. There is of course some work still to do but it was a good start to the year.

Huge thanks to our team of partners for their invaluable contribution; Luke, Liam, Josh, Grace P, Emily and Craig.

Our next event is the Medal Presentation dance so we hope you will all join us for a fun and social afternoon with plenty of cake! Boris will be there.

‘‘Tis the season to be jolly”

The party season kicked off in style with our annual Christmas Party once again held at Risley Park. It offers everyone the chance to meet and mingle with other members of the dance school in an informal setting and to get to know those who you might not otherwise meet.

Nearly sixty dancers gathered determined to enjoy themsleves and judging by the photos they did just that. Of course there was no shyness in taking to the floor once the disco started.

As the year draws to a close we take time out to spend with friends and families and recharge ready for the term ahead. Boris will soon be heading off on his annual Christmas break to Bearmuda where he is looking forward to seeing his family once more and tucking into a large helping of Christmas Pudding!

Examination First

This weekend was an exciting time as we hosted our first examination session at our new studio. Over 170 examinations were taken in the presence of an NATD examiner, starting at 11.45am on Saturday and ending at 6.30pm on Sunday. With a small interlude in between for sleep!

Everyone was exceptionally well turned out as always and were keen to show the examiner what they could do. We had a number who were taking their exams for the first time alongside others who were seasoned campaigners but all rose to the challenge and gave good accounts of themselves. As always there will be those who feel they could have done it better but this all adds to the experience for future occasions. Well done to everyone who took part you are all a credit to the school.

As always Boris was on hand to watch every step and whilst it is a long and tiring weekend for a small bear he does enjoy following everyone’s progress.

With exams out of the way we can start looking forward to Christmas and those joining us for the Christmas Party next Saturday will have the chance to relax and mingle with friends outside of a dance environment. 

We then have the end of term classes after which we take time out to enjoy the festive season with friends and family before the New Year kicks off with Champions of Tomorrow in Blackpool quickly followed by the first ISTD qualifier at Kettering. For those doing the ISTD events next year be aware that there will only be two qualifiers for ballroom and Latin so make sure you plan accordingly.

The Medal Presentation Dance takes place on February 2nd at George Spencer Academy and is a fun filled afternoon with social dancing, demonstrations and of course most importantly, delicious cakes. Friends and family are welcome to come along as is anyone else, even if you don’t have any medals to collect.

What Blackpool Means To Me?

This was the question posed as the theme for the Saturday evening dance at the 20th running of the ISTD Grand Finals weekend and clearly to Julie Blackpool means donkeys and so she dressed accordingly! Congratulations for the time and effort involved in organising the outfit.

To most dancers however it means getting up at the crack of dawn to get dressed, prepare hair and make-up, eat breakfast and get to the ballroom at an hour when most people are only thinking of starting their weekend, whereupon they enter an alternate reality where time has no meaning. It is also the opportunity to dance in the world’s most magnificent and prestigious ballroom and pit yourself against the best dancers in the country and in some cases the world.

Such is the draw of the Wintergardens, Blackpool that dancers from other countries dream of being able to set foot on the hallowed floor just once in a lifetime and we perhaps sometimes forget how fortunate we are to have it right on our doorstep.

The ISTD event always attracts large numbers of quality dancers and each year the numbers and standard seem to increase. Participating in this event always presents a good opportunity to challenge oneself and this year was no exception where even a recall cannot be taken for granted.

Our weekend began at 8.30am on Saturday morning and we only had two juveniles with us this year so well done to April and Lewie who had worked hard to qualify to even be here. They both danced well and April achieved a recall in her ballroom event which is no easy task.

The juniors then took up the challenge and we had Jack, Paige and Grace S competing today. Grace was dancing for the first time as a junior, having competed last year as a juvenile so it was really like starting all over again for her. Nevertheless she danced well and will improve from her experience. Jack and Paige both made the last 24 of their ballroom events with Paige repeating this in her Latin event. They were also recalled in their couples event.

Twelve hours after we had begun the day we were finished, with just time to grab a quick dinner before returning to the ballroom for the evening dance. This is always a chance to have a relaxed evening and socialise with friends. There is usually a show and this year, being the 20th anniversary there were nine showdances, one of which was given by Liam who was kindly partnered by Lily, as Alex is still in Australia. They gave a lovely demonstration of the Classical Waltz which I am sure was greatly appreciated by the audience.

Day two began at 8.30am once again and we began with the sequence events which are always keenly fought since there are no grades, only age categories. We were represented in four of the five categories and Jack, Paige and Grace S all reached the semi-final of the Junior event. Almost everyone else received at least one recall in their respective event. We had our first winner of the weekend in the the under 35 years section, usually one of the toughest. Grace P took this honour with Josh in second place and Olivia and Craig also reaching the final of that event. In the Over 35 years section, Paul, Karen and Serena all made the final finishing second, third and fifth respectively. Our second winner soon followed in the over 50 years section, with one of the largest entries of the sequence section. Carla was placed first (completing a Blackpool double) with Christine taking the runner up slot. Andrew and Peter also made this final and were placed fourth and fifth.

With no time to bathe in the warm glow of success it was straight on with the ballroom and Latin individual events. We had twenty four adults all keen to see how they compared to their peers. Debbie who had qualified for the first time, received a recall in her Latin event and most of our dancers had recalls in both their ballroom and latin events. Charlotte B, Chris, Carol, Peter, Grace P, Craig, Serena, Paul and Dawn all made their ballroom semi finals and Charlotte B, Carol, Peter, Grace P and Serena also repeated this in their Latin events. Hazel made her ballroom final, finishing sixth and Rosalind, Allison and Sue made both of their respective ballroom and Latin finals. Some great performances throughout then and ones of which you can all be proud.

It was then onto the couples events and it was good to see some of the individuals pairing up to have a go. Well done to Hazel & Debbie, Rosalind & Allison, Charlotte S & Emily, Karly & Charlotte B and Olivia & Charlotte B who all had recalls with Olivia & Charlotte B reaching their semi final. Dawn & Andy and Carla & Neil made both of their finals and Chris & Serena finished second in their ballroom event. It is pleasing to report however that the day ended where it had begun with Josh & Grace and Craig & Karly winning their ballroom events, and Peter & Carol winning their Latin event. All couples also made their other final as well (in the Latin event Craig pairing up with Olivia). A great way to round off an enjoyable and successful weekend.

Boris and the bears (and Arabella) were of course out in force, joined by new recruit, Michael who found it a bit overwhelming on his first time out. They were all very excited by everyone’s performances and to see you all in action. Liam bear was found to be living up to his namesake, although to be fair it was towards the end of a very long day.

            The Thinker

Afterwards it was back to the hotel for food, drink and reflection. It had been a long and tiring weekend (for some more than others) but an enjoyable one nevertheless. A final thank you to Stuart & Andrea for organising the food one of the most important tasks of the weekend!

Of course our partnering team deserve a huge thank you for their commitment, both over the weekend and throughout the year. Many thanks go to Luke, Ruth, Liam, Grace P, Josh, Craig and Olivia. It’s a team effort and we simply couldn’t do so much without your support . We would also like to thank everyone who has partnered along the way at competitions and lessons, your contribution is invaluable. Last but by no means least a massive thank you to all our supporters and parents, you give everyone terrific support both on and off the floor.

Coming up we have the NATD exam session at the beginning of December followed by the Christmas Party (can it really be that time of year already?)

Towering Performances at Blackpool

October usually heralds the onset of Autumn with all its glorious colour together with cooler weather, shorter days and a time when Boris is glad of his jumper. For our dancers it also brings one of the most prestigious events in our calendar, the British Sequence Championships at Blackpool. 

This year saw the 70th running of these Championships and we had a great team with us, all eager to test their skills against the best dancers in the country, in this style of dance.

The first day saw all dancers in action: Josh & Grace, Stuart & Andrea, Neil & Carla, Andrew & Dawn and Craig & Emma. The Wintergardens is always a fabulous place to dance, the huge floor, the ornate decor, the history, and the opportunity to dance to the live orchestra make this a very special event. First to put their skills to the test were Neil & Carla, Andrew & Dawn and Craig & Emma in their modern sequence event. They had to battle through two rounds on their way to the final which all three couples achieved, which in itself was a great performance. When the results were announced, Craig & Emma won with Neil & Carla second and Andrew & Dawn placed fifth which set the benchmark for the team and was excellent for all concerned.

The Senior Classical Sequence Championship followed with Stuart & Andrea in action and they finished third in the final analysis which was the same result as they achieved last year although they demonstrated a much improved performance.

Josh & Grace were our final couple in action in their Modern Sequence Championship. There were a number of new couples, fresh from the junior field, contesting this event today so they needed to have their A game with them. Once again they gave a confident and much improved performance earning a recall to the final. They will no doubt feel a little unfortunate to have been placed fifth and on another day could well have been placed higher. 

The following day saw only Neil & Carla and Andrew & Dawn in action but it was good to see that most of the others turned out to support their fellow team members in the early rounds and again in the evening. Once again they had to dance two rounds to reach the final which both couples did with Neil & Carla being placed first closely followed by Andrew & Dawn in second, we couldn’t have asked for anything more so well done to you both.

All too soon it was the final day of the festival, which seemed to have flown by. Josh & Grace, Stuart & Andrea and Craig & Emma were all in action today, with the addition of Liam & Grace joining for the Pro-Am event. As expected all couples were keen to do well and give their best performances, whilst Boris was keen to secure some more silverware.

It was also a certain person’s birthday and we could let it pass without marking the occasion.

In the Senior Modern Sequence event, Stuart & Andrea once again turned in a good performance but had to be content with third once again. Josh & Grace had their Classical Sequence Championship today and once again made the final finishing sixth overall. Craig & Emma repeated their success of Sunday evening with another win in their Classical Sequence event, emulating Josh & Grace’s double win of a few years earlier. 

We then came to the eagerly anticipated Pro-Am event and this gave Liam the opportunity to dance at these championships for the first time since he and Alex retired from their Amateur career. He was partnered by Grace and they gave a lovely display of the three test dances to take first place and round off a winning weekend. 

Overall then it was a very successful Championships for our dancers and all participants should be complimented on their performances, attire, commitment and team support which was fantastic. Well done to all involved.

After all the excitement of the last few days even Boris felt in need of refreshment whilst everyone reflected on the high points of the festival.

We only have a week to recover before one of the other important events in our calendar, the ISTD Grand Finals, once again in Blackpool. Most of the team will be in action here and Boris will be extremely busy organising the mascots. Look out for further reports here.

Dancing in the Rain!

Not so sunny Whitby

This morning the car turned north up the A1 to Whitby. This is a very much looked forward to event on the calendar although today the weather didn’t exactly give us a warm welcome with rain all the way. Nevertheless, there was a warm and friendly welcome when we arrived in the beautiful Spa Ballroom.

At this event we usually just have a team of adult competitors but for the first time we were joined by Tabatha and April who danced as a couple in all the juvenile events within their age group. This meant they had to learn to dance together the waltz, quickstep, tango, cha cha cha, jive and samba. An achievement before the day had even begun!

The day started with the ballroom section and the largest entry of the day was the Open Adult waltz and quickstep which started off with 30 couples.  Andrew & Dawn, Paul & Karen, Craig & Karly and Chris & Serena all made it to the last 13 couples. Andrew & Dawn made it one round further to the semi final and Chris & Serena made it two rounds further making the final, being placed a very worthy 5th. In the age categories, Paul & Karen won their event with Chris & Serena 5th and Andrew & Dawn also won their age group. In the children’s events, Tabatha & April were recalled twice in the open under 12yrs, making the semi final. In the juvenile all girls they were also recalled twice, to make the final, being placed 6th and in the 8-9yrs they came 4th. 

It was then time for the sequence events. In the Adult Sindy Swing, all four couples made it to the semi final. Then three couples progressed to the final. With Andrew & Dawn coming 2nd, Craig & Karly 6th and Paul & Karen 7th.

It was then time for the ‘fun’ Mayfair quickstep competition, where we had some new partnerships, Karly with April, Chris with Dawn, Andrew with Serena, Craig with Tabatha, Paul with Julie (Craig’s Mum) and Karen with Rob (Karly’s Dad). Everyone entered into the spirit of the event. Nearly everyone got a recall. Then progressing another round to the semi final were Chris & Dawn, Andrew & Karly, Craig & Tabatha and Rob & Karen. Making it one more round to the final were Chris & Dawn finishing 6th and Andrew & Serena finishing 2nd.

It was then the last section of the day, the Latin American. The Open Adult rumba and jive was again the largest event with everyone getting at least a recall and Craig & Karly, Paul & Karen and Andrew & Dawn reaching the semi final. In the ages groups, Andrew & Dawn won their event. Paul & Karen were 2nd in their event with Chris & Serena coming 5th. 

Tabatha and April changed roles for the Latin American events with April taking the lead role this time. They came 7th in their age group, achieved a recall in the all girls event and worked their way through two recalls in the under 12yrs open event.

Overall, it was a lovely day, the atmosphere was warm and friendly with great music inspiring both the dancers and supporters alike.

Then after a long day of dancing we went for our usual reward of fish and chips at the Magpie. Why is it fish always tastes better at the seaside??

This type of event is going to be repeated twice in 2020 in April and again in October therefore, we hope there will be lots of enthusiasm to join the group for a lovely day out of dancing at the seaside.

All eyes are now turning towards Blackpool, with the sequence championships next weekend closely followed by the medallist grand finals at the end of the month…..keep dancing!!!!!

Sweet Bournville

The busy season has kicked in and there are a number of major events on the horizon. We decided to try an event which we had not attended before and so our intrepid dancers set forth to Bournville for an invitation medallist event. For some it was the chance to gain some valuable match practice ahead of Blackpool and for others it was a chance for another outing and benchmark their skills against some different people. For others it was their first foray onto the competition floor.

The location was Bournville college near Birmingham which is a spacious sports hall with a large wooden floor giving the dancers room to stretch their legs. We had a number of regulars who were unable to attend through injury or holiday but we still had a good turnout. The day overall was quieter than we might have hoped for but there were still a number of experienced dancers eager to compete.

The juniors and juveniles kicked off and we had Phoebe, Lewie, April, Ashton, Tabatha, Brooke, Paige and Grace S all in action today. As we would expect they all tried their hardest and were rewarded with some good results.

Finalists today were Lewie, Brooke, Tabatha, Ashton, Grace and Paige in the ballroom section with first places for Grace and Paige. In the Latin section Lewie, April, Tabatha, Ashton, Grace and Paige also made the finals.

In the couples event Lewie and Phoebe won both their ballroom and Latin events, Ashton and April (dancing together for the first time) and Brooke and Tabatha made both their finals and Paige and Grace made their ballroom final. Overall then some excellent performances especially since many of our youngsters are still relatively new to competing. 

We then commenced the adult events. We had Evie joining the team for the first time today and she recorded a win in her ballroom event and a second place in the Latin which was a great outcome at the first attempt.

Also winning today were Rosalind, Peter, Craig, Chris, Serena, Karly, Neil, Emily, Carol and Allison. Craig & Karly, Neil & Carla and Peter & Carol also had wins in their couples events. In the over 35 years couples events we secured the top three places in both the ballroom and Latin sections with Chris & Serena taking third in the ballroom and Rosalind & Allison placed second in the Latin.

As always, everyone was well turned out with some new dresses on display and as always upholding our tradition of the ‘best dressed school’. We were of course delighted to be awarded the ‘school shield’, presented to the dance school with the best overall results on the day. Well done to everyone for their continued hard work and dedication especially the partners and teachers, Luke, Liam and Ruth.

For some there are tougher days ahead at Blackpool in October and November where finals and wins will be harder to come by but we are sure you will all rise to the challenge as always. For others we will be working towards exams in December. 

Watch out for future reports.

Chesterfield Sequence Day

The summer holidays are already becoming a distant memory and the competition season is making a welcome return. The first event of this term is our sequence competition which take place, in conjunction with Steven & Helen, at Stavely near Chesterfield.

The day commenced with the children’s events and we had three bold dancers attending this event for the first time. All the events they entered were solo and it’s no easy task trying to remember six dances and performing them on your own on the competition floor. However, Brooke, Tabatha & Phoebe rose to the challenge and showed they are strong, competent dancers. In the Juvenile Square Tango & Ragtime Swing,  Brooke and Tabatha had to come through two rounds to make the final, coming a very respectable 5th & 6th respectively. In the Under 10yrs Pas de Basque & Walks and Gainsborough Glide, Tabatha & Phoebe again had to come through two rounds to make the final, this time Tabatha came 5th & Phoebe 6th. In the  Under 12yrs solo the judges couldn’t differentiate and Tabatha & Brooke tied for 4th place. In the Open Fylde Waltz & Waverley Two Step, Brooke came 4th. Then to conclude the afternoon, Phoebe danced through two rounds of the Under 8yrs Rosette Two Step & Square Tango to secure a 5th place in the final. They should all be very proud of how they all danced as well as achieving great results.

It was then the turn of the adult competitors. They danced their warm up  rounds during the afternoon and then their finals took place during the evening social dance. It was lovely to see so many people come for the social dance, giving them the opportunity to join in some general dancing and also to show such brilliant support for the competitions. I’m sure it was much appreciated by the competitors and they all ‘upped their game’ in response.

The results were Josh & Grace were 3rd in both their classical and modern sequence events. In the process dancing a lovely interpretation of the Elizabethan Waltz. Stuart & Andrea were also 3rd in both of their events and Craig & Emma secured two wins in their events. By far the biggest entry of the adult section was the  Over 35yrs social, which required three rounds to determine the final platings. It was a very conclusive result for the school. In the classical event, Paul & Karen won, with Neil & Carla 2nd, Andrew & Dawn 3rd and Chris & Serena (being a new partnership to this event) securing 5th. Considering the strong competition this was a massive success. In the modern  sequence event there were some slight changes, this time Neil & Carla secured the win over Paul & Karen, Andrew & Dawn were 3rd again and this time Chris & Serena achieved 4th.

Thanks to everyone who attended whether to compete or support from both our dance school and other dance schools across the country. Also, thanks to our loyal team of helpers, Jean, Julie, Ruth & Liam on the door and assisting with the  scrutineering, Brian & Janice in the kitchen, Auntie Joan ticket collecting, Julie as first aider and of course Luke adjudicating.

The next couple of weeks will be spent ensuring everyone is settled into our new studio with the next competition on 22nd Sept in Bourneville. Also, remember if you wish to attend the Christmas party deposits need to be paid by 13th Sept (adults only) & ISTD Blackpool ticket and accommodation money is also due on the same date.

It’s Official

The official launch party of the new purpose designed Duesbury Aldred Dance Centre Studio took place yesterday and over sixty dancers and well wishers attended to view the new premises and celebrate its opening. The venture has been some eighteen months in the planning and building and we look forward to taking up residence soon after the summer break.

Guest of honour was of course Boris who performed the official opening ceremony alongside Louise and Robert. He was quoted as saying “it’s been hard work over the last few months pulling in the building work and supervising the team of builder bears alongside my regular duties but it’s all been worthwhile in the end”

We look forward to getting up and running in the near future-who will be the first to quickstep over the threshold?