High Storrs’ mission to keep dance alive

High Storrs - West Side Story
High Storrs - West Side Story
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It’s a very exciting time to be part of Performing Arts at High Storrs School.

Its dance company was recently selected to represent Yorkshire in the youth dance festival, U.Dance 2017; the entire school will come together next month to put on a triumphant production of West Side Story; plans are currently underway for the annual ‘Dance Exchange’ showcase, and the school’s Y13 pupils are busy applying for, and being accepted to, a variety of prestigious dance and theatre schools.

High Storrs - West Side Story

High Storrs - West Side Story

“Under the tutilage of our dance teacher, Sean Selby, the school has made it its mission to ‘keep dance alive in mainsteam education’ at a time when funding for Arts is being cut,” said Claire Pender, assistant headteacher, and drama and theatre studies teacher.

“High Storrs sees the immense value in not only teaching the Arts, but also nurturing our students’ natural creative talent, and our students are excelling in all areas as a result.”

Dance teacher Sean said: “Being a Performing Arts specialist school, we are always looking for performance opportunities outside of our curriculum. I heard about U.Dance - and the regional platform ‘Fresh’ - from colleagues and knew the competition would be of a high standard, as dance in Yorkshire is so big and diverse.

“We were confident in our video entry, and finding out we got through to the Yorkshire heats, ‘Fresh,’ was great news. The line-up of companies High Storrs Dance got to share the stage with at the West Yorkshire Playhouse was exciting and the day itself was so inspiring for our students, as they got to take part in a West End workshop, learn material from the book of Mormon, and take part in a finale routine choreographed by a professional choreographer. From there, we were selected to represent Yorkshire for U.Dance 2017 - a true honour.”

Under the tutelage of our dance teacher, Sean Selby, The school has made it its mission to ‘keep dance alive in mainstream education’ at a time when funding for Arts is being cut

High Storrs Dance will now compete against other regional winners at the Hippodome in Birmingham, on July 13-16.

“I’m so proud of High Storrs Dance,” Sean added.

“Dance seems to be growing more in our school, and we hope that we are a living proof that arts in mainstream is important.

“This year we are welcoming record numbers of A Level dance students to our sixth form, pulling in young talent from across the breadth of the city, and we can’t wait to show the UK what High Storrs Dance is all about at next month’s U.Dance final.”

High Storrs - West Side Story

High Storrs - West Side Story

The school’s annual Dance Exchange will also provide students with the opportunity to showcase their work to an audience of 300 on July 18.

With performances from Y7-13, there will be a wide variety of work on display, as well as the retiring performance of Disparate Perplexion by High Storrs Dance Company, hot on the heels of their national U.Dance performance.

And before that, audiences will have the chance to soak up one of the most well-known musicals of all time, as High Storrs presents its rendition of the classic tale, West Side story.

“High Storrs’ annual school production has always been an important date in the school’s diary, but in recent years, it’s become a sell-out event.” said Claire.

High Storrs - West Side Story

High Storrs - West Side Story

“This year is set to mark the best year yet, with an all-singing and dancing cast, live orchestra and professional theatre set-up.

“The audition process started in September, with record numbers of students auditioning. During the rehearsal process, the young cast and crew have worked tirelessly to put together a professional and highly polished musical, and anyone who knows West Side Story will tell you the choreography is extremely complex. This has been a real challenge for the young dancers, but a challenge they and Sean Selby have relished!”

Year 13 cast member, Elliot Goodhill, said: “Working side by side with people who eventually become like family is only one of the perks of being a part of West Side Story.

“All the cast rehearse regularly, almost every day after school may seem like too much, but once in rehearsal the time flies by. Being surrounded by a group involving all years, you get the opportunity to interact with each other, forming friendships which you previously may not have been able to do.”

Cast member Vishal Chanda added: “All the hard work put in throughout the year leads to an exhilarating first show, a buzz which carries on throughout the week leading to an explosive final show. It is a complex process filled with high energy warm ups and intense focus, but in spite of this we’ve not forgotten how to have fun; as each rehearsal is filled with laughs and is an excellent break from homework or revision.

“When it comes to the final show, we know it will be emotionally exhausting, possibly even filled with tears, especially when the whole cast say goodbye to the Y13s. But it’ll be a suitable end to a year filled with excitement, energy, hard work and laughs. It’s quite hard to put the experience of west side story in to words, but it is an incredible experience that we won’t forget.”

High Storrs U Dance

High Storrs U Dance

Students Rebecca Hannenman and James Hadabora, one of the musical’s leads, have already been accepted to Bird College of Dance in London, and dancer Erin Corfield has been accepted to London’s Urdang Academy.

Claire added: “We’re blown away by our students’ abilities to knock people’s socks off, this is not your traditional school show by any means.”

Visit www.highstorrs.co.uk for details on upcoming events or for tickets to upcoming shows and productions.