Sheffield school dancers on national stage

High Storrs dancers have been selected to perform in the Rambert Elements competition. Picture: Andrew Roe
High Storrs dancers have been selected to perform in the Rambert Elements competition. Picture: Andrew Roe

A school has developed its own top performing dance team after being invited to take part in a prestigious competition.

Preparations for the Rambert Elements competition have demanded much hard work and dedication from 14 selected dancers at High Storrs School.

Rambert Elements is a new choreographic initiative for secondary schools and colleges created by Rambert, Britain’s oldest dance company.

High Storrs applied for its competition back in July 2015, and was thrilled to learn much later they had been selected to compete at regional Midlands level.

Dance teacher Sean Selby, a former professional West End dancer, believes his students in High Storrs, that is known for its passion for the arts, have the ability to do well in Rambert Elements.

He said: “This is our first launch of High Storrs School’s Dance Company. It is so diverse and inclusive. Students have come from very different backgrounds, styles and training levels to work together in this incredible opportunity.

“We have an Asian pop-locking break-dancer boy, a Northern Ballet middle class girl, and an ethnic minority Northern School of Contemporary Dance scholarship winner. The group is made up of such diverse students, which I think represents the school as a whole and the area.”

He added: “Our students are inspired by leading dance companies and choreographers in this country. Most of the dancers in the process are putting applications together for dance and stage schools as we speak, and to be able to say they will perform in front of a panel of internationally renowned choreographers is something not many can do.”

Sean had to attend a series of skills development master classes in London. He explained how leading choreographers Mark Baldwin, Aletta Collins and Alexander Whitley, each created a ‘toolkit’ containing a title, a piece of music, online film interviews with the choreographers and demonstrations by Rambert dancers of pre-devised movement phrases and tasks.

Aletta Collins is linked to High Storrs. Aletta has worked extensively in dance, theatre and opera. She is a former Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House, choreographed His Dark Materials for the National Theatre and had over 2000 people dancing in Trafalgar Square for Big Dance in 2008. Her West End credits include the new production of Bend it Like Beckham.

One High Storrs dancer, Jonny Aubrey-Bentley, 17, from Hunter’s Bar, said “This experience is such a fantastic opportunity for us all; we’re so driven as a group and all want to get through to the London stage so much!” Leah Bradbury, a talented art and textiles student, will design and make the dancers’ costumes.

Claire Pender, Assistant Headteacher, said: “We are delighted that our students have this fantastic opportunity to showcase their work on a national level.”

The regional heat is at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall in February. High Storrs and five other schools will compete for one place at a national showcase in London in June.