Waterbabes: Synchronised swimming premiere in Sheffield for Cultural Olympiad

Smart moves: The Balbir Singh Dance Company presented Synhronised - a dance and live music event at Ponds Forge.
Smart moves: The Balbir Singh Dance Company presented Synhronised - a dance and live music event at Ponds Forge.
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JAZZ shoes and leggings were swapped for swimming costumes as Sheffield was treated to a dance spectacular with a difference.

The city’s Pond Forge International Sports Centre provided the setting for the world premiere of Synchronised, a fusion of art and sport produced for the Cultural Olympiad.

It was the culmination of three years hard work from Huddersfield-based Balbir Singh Dance Company, swimmers and community performers.

Renowned choreographer Balbir joined forces with former Olympian Heba Abdel Gawad as part of imove, Yorkshire’s cultural programme for London 2012.

The pair worked to ensure the show married the influences of classical Indian Kathak dance with synchronised swimming and contemporary dance. It also tried to pay homage to the MGM ‘water musicals’ of the 40s and 50s.

They drafted in the help of composer Jesse Bannister, BAFTA filmmaker Terry Braun and lighting designer Michael Mannion to give the occasion the wow factor.

A huge crowd, which included specially-invited schoolchildren from across the area, filled the seating surrounding the Olympic-sized swimming pool as the show got under way.

Hannah Myers, Balbir Singh Dance Company company manager, said: “The event went really well, it was fantastic. We got a really good response from the audience and it was absolutely packed out.

“It wasn’t a completely new venture. Balbir has always been obsessed with swimming and he encouraged dancers to do it too. To him, there is a strong affinity between dance and the water and we brought it to life.

“When we were looking at venues we knew that the pool at Pond’s Forge would allow us to deliver it on the grand scale we wanted to. That was a one-off, we’re performing an adapted version in Leeds but we won’t do it on that scale again.”