Newcastle pupils in step with dancing traditions

YOUNGSTERS mixed one of the North East’s oldest dance forms with hip-hop and street dancing at a new workshop at their school.

Niamh Hanlon from Gosforth put on her dancing shoes for a clog workshop

YOUNGSTERS mixed one of the North East’s oldest dance forms with hip-hop and street dancing at a new workshop at their school.

Pupils from Newcastle Church High’s junior school learned the traditional art of clog dancing in a session with a nationally acclaimed troupe.

Six cast members from new touring dance show The Lock In dropped in to visit the pupils, where they put on a performance followed by a series of workshops in clogging, rapper sword, street and break dance.

The workshops, organised by North East clog dancer and teacher, Laura Connelly, tied in with the production’s UK tour which runs until March and is designed to introduce young children to alternative forms of dance.

Laura said: “The show and workshops offer a great way of bringing together some of the UK’s oldest forms of dance with their modern counterparts and the girls at Church High had a fantastic time trying out so many different styles of dance for the first time.

“During the day, the girls sampled everything from hip hop and funk to clog and Morris dancing.

“The idea behind the show is to introduce children to alternative forms of dance and demonstrate the exciting place traditional forms of dance can have in modern day culture.

“We’re keen for forgotten gems, such as Northumbrian rapper sword dancing and clog dancing, to make a resurgence and it’s great to see the reactions these dance styles have on audiences and the people taking part.

“The girls were fascinated by how many of the moves in street dancing and clog dancing are actually very similar, even though they are seemingly very different dance styles.”

The Lock In is the brainchild of award-winning folk band, the Demon Barbers, and incorporates sword dances, Morris, clog, hip hop, funk, house, ska, and drum and bass in the performance.

Judith Cunningham, head of the junior school at Church High, said: “The girls thoroughly enjoyed the workshops and we were all incredibly impressed by the skills demonstrated by all the dancers during the showcase.

“Lots of our pupils participate in dance, and a host of other activities both inside and outside of school.

“And we hope this will encourage even more of our girls to try out different forms of dance on offer, especially as the traditional styles, such as Northumbrian rapper sword, have such strong links with our region.

“We are all very pleased to see these traditional dance styles making a comeback.”

Nine-year-old Niamh Hanlon, from Gosforth a Year 5 pupil at Church High, said: “I loved having a go at dancing with The Lock In cast, it was amazing.

“My favourite dance style was clog and sword dancing. I’d never tried them before but they were both so much fun.”

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