The 14+ contemporary dance group from Darlington Racecourse has been selected as one of two regional finalists to represent the Northeast at the U.Dance National Youth Dance Festival for 2021. Presented by One Dance UK, the U.Dance National Youth Dance Festival invites young dance groups selected from regional U.Dance platforms to experience a summer celebration of dance.

Due to the Covid pandemic, the competition took on a different format in 2021, with the entire festival taking place online and groups invited to submit a dance film of their choice. Darlington Racecourse has engaged with Dave Allinson, a local filmmaker, to work alongside bandleader and choreographer Debbie Harbin of The D Project Dance Company to create a dance piece called Textured Reality.

The piece was inspired by discussions with the dancers about their experiences during the first lockdown. Working face-to-face when possible and online when necessary, the play has evolved over time and focuses on the different layers of reality the group faced during times of isolation.

Lyndsey Middleton, Audience Development and Engagement Manager for Darlington Racecourse, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen to represent the region at this exciting national event. While in-depth research was a challenge for our young people, we wanted them to still have access to the best dance opportunities possible, as well as the ability to come together – albeit online – and explore this. what life during this period meant to them and how it impacted their mental health and well-being. The dance film that the young people created and choreographed, directed by their dance leader Debbie is a heartfelt representation of their feelings and emotions expressed through dance, and we could not be prouder of their accomplishments. “

Councilor Andy Keir said: “This is great news not only for the talented young dancers involved, but also for Darlington and the region at large. It is a great opportunity to showcase the talent, drive and the determination of the young people of Darlington in bringing out an important issue in this area – in a creative way. “

The national showcases will be held online from Friday July 16 to Sunday July 18. In addition to the nationally screened film, the festival will feature online workshops with top dance professionals and inspiring information on dance careers for young people.

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