Theatre Review: 024 Dance @ The Regent

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The Regent Theatre is once again hosting its annual Dance Festival that – as host of the event Caroline Sherratt is proud to announce – is one of the venue’s highlights.

The latest version – the 23rd of its run – is 024 and has once again attracted the participation of dance groups not just from the immediate local area but from across the Midlands and the North West.

With participants from the age of four through to the more mature dancer, this year’s theme is Through The Decades and the Companies and Choreographers interpreted the topic in a variety of ways and took their turns on stage after an accomplished introduction by members of the Regent’s Academy.

A number of the participating groups chose to show off their skills in the numerous genres of dance by taking us through the different musical fads of the ages.

Imagine Dance from Audley produced a piece called Legacy choreographed by Nicci Evans and professional dancer Joshuia Hooper that gave an opportunity for a troupe that consisted of the very youngest student through to 18-year olds to perform together in what was a lively opener for the evening’s entertainment

Blythe Bridge Sixth Form adopted a similar approach in a routine that involved a bewildering array of costume changes and good use of props and Newcastle College FE Group also showed off their considerable talents in the various styles of dance in a piece where the students themselves assisted main choreographers Kelly Green, Michelle Denny and Abby Buxton with the production.

Other groups were more specific in their choice of material. Miss Kym’s School of Dance from Uttoxeter explored the different dance crazes through the ages by adopting the iconic Back to the Future as their inspiration. Kym Cooper choreographed the showcase that contained some beautifully created synchronised movement.

Stagecoach Uttoxeter was another Company that used a whole range of ages in their routine. Entitled Stages Through The Ages and choreographed by Lucy Palmer and Sophie Toft, this was a charming tiptoe through the tunes from Annie on to Shrek and including the likes of Beetlejuice on the way. All chosen because they are favourites with children and were a hit for the audience too.

The show closed with Rooftop Studios Performing Arts as they took us on a trip with Barbie Through The Decades. Choreographed by Antonia Bennett, Verity Caddy, Chloe Oakley and Georgia Twigg, this was another Company that saw the collaboration of their various sections as they took us through how much Barbie has been an influence through the ages and is not just pretty in pink.

The other two companies that performed provided a completely different experience.

Newcastle College HNC and HND students produced a largely self-choreographed performance that explored the evolution of the Horror Movie. As one would expect, the choice of movement and music took the audience into dark realms and provided a compelling contrast to the lightness on offer in other productions.

Finally, the Homegrown Youth Dance Company showcased their Running Away. The Race You Will Never Win choreographed by Naomi Johnson. With its inspiration being the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Government paper on runaway children, this moving piece of movement theatre used haunting music and movement to demonstrate that the baggage that causes the initial flight can never be fully discarded.

With the support of the professional staff at the Regent – particularly lighting – the dancers were aided in their aim to provide a fascinating evening’s entertainment and all who were involved – especially the costumiers – deserve a hearty round of applause.

Was everything perfection? No it wasn’t but the few blips added to the charm. What was perfect was the pride in which the performers took in their work, the joy that they provided both for themselves and the audience and the inspiration that dance and movement can give.

The opening Act ended with I’m A Believer. This show gives everyone the belief that there is hope for the future from the youth of today.

Please note that there are different companies performing each evening in a show that has a running time of approximately two hours including interval and completes its run on February 14th.