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023 Dance Festival: Our Planet


Review by David Bithell


The O events are now in its 22nd year and is one of the venues annual highlights.


This was my first time attending the festival, prior to I kept an open mind as I didnt know what to expect, and I was totally blown away by the quality and togetherness these young performers showed throughout the evening.


This year’s offering continues at the Regent Theatre until February 11th and, with the subtitle of Our Planet, gives the young performers the chance to express the concerns and how we can all make a difference to our beautiful planet.


Hosted by Caroline Sherratt and with a eye catching visual performance from the Regent Theatre Academy to begin proceedings, the stage was set for these young dancers to showcase what they had for us.


Sandy Lane Dancers got the night off to a great start with Elements on Fire choreographed by Olivia Corden and Eli Kara. This group runs alongside a charity and their performers created lovely images of close choreography. The pressure of being the first act on stage didnt make a difference as they gave us a glittering opening and set the tone for the night ahead.



Next up were Danceline which gives performing opportunities to 6 to 14 year olds. Entitled Uplifting and choreographed by Rebecca Jones, the performance highlighted the need to speak and communicate when persons are struggling with mental health issues. The lead dancer performed amazingly throughout and was supported by a strong cast of dancers.


Rooftop Studios concluded Act1 and that continued after the interval to move the audience into Act 2. With the topic of Mother Nature and with the leadership of Antonia Hayley Bennett, Chloe Oakley and Verity Caddy, produced a performance of the four elements of nature. The students chose their own music and how to produce the dance and this showed tremendously alongside the dazzling costumes.


Abbey Hill College and Helping Angels Indi Club made the audience get on their feet for a standing ovation. They truly bought the house down with their piece titled Our Wonderful Planet, guided by the amazing Angela Beardmore and Megan Baddeley – they owned the stage. It captivated us and filled us full of joy witnessing the dancers perform to disco classics.


Supervised by Sophie Toft and Lucy Palmer, Stagecoach Uttoxeter were the penultimate act of the evening. Their dance called Fantastic Forests, performed with energy and class this group of 4 to 16-year olds showed us their talents of making good use of props and highly designed costumes. This was a very energetic routine which culminated in a huge conga on stage.


The night was closed by Blythe Bridge High School and Sixth Form College. This routine titled Elemental, produced by Aaliyah Chamberlain-Keeling and Paige Reason assisted by teacher Miss Housley gave an aweinspiring performace, this group were the ones that stood out for me, tight, talented and pure joy to watch.


I left the auditorium feeling proud of what amazing local talent we have at our disposal and knowing even people with difficulties are being given a chance to shine and perform on the grand stage at The Regent Theatre.


It will stick with me for a long time and those involved should be very proud of what they have produced and I will be coming back next year to see what 024 has in store for us all.


O23 continues with different performing arts groups until Saturday 11th February, For ticket information contact atgtickets.com/stoke

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