Schools step out for dance festival weekends in York

Uplifting: The Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival in York

THE second weekend of the 2019 Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival will be held at Central Hall, University of York, on Saturday and Sunday from 3pm.

As many as 1,200 children aged four to 19, from 57 primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and community dance groups, are taking part in this annual non-competitive event.

Spread over two weekends, the festival celebrates the region’s young creative talent and raises the profile of dance provision within schools and the wider community, while showcasing a range of abilities and dance styles. For the vast majority, this is the first time they will have danced in public.

For the four days of dancing, groups are travelling from as far afield as Ingleton, Hull, Thirsk and Barnsley to take part after developing their performances through after-school clubs, during curriculum time and as part of examination courses.

A festival theme is set each year, and for the past few months schools and groups have been deciding how best to interpret this year’s theme, Reflections. Performances vary from reinterpretations of the Snow White story, through to a consideration of the physics of reflection, to support work within science lessons.

Laura Brett, class teacher at Naburn CE Primary School, York, says: “Our dance piece tells the story of a Grandma and Grandad reflecting on their lives as children, watching as visions of their younger selves relive some of the happier days in their lives.

“The children have had great fun choreographing this – prompting some discussion about the lives we lead and the mark we want to make on the world.”

Taking part from Keighley, Emma Pease, Class 3 teacher at Cowling Primary School, says: “We thought about how social media affects us and our mental health. The group then modelled how we could reflect this negativity away from us, realising our strength together and becoming more resilient as a result.”

The festival is produced by York arts education specialists Creative Learning Partnerships, whose director, Colin Jackson, says: “Dance is an art form that is central to our heritage and culture. It’s celebrated increasingly on our TV screens through shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Got Talent.

Let’s dance: Dancers enjoying the schools festival in York

“The sad state of affairs in schools, however, is that it is quickly disappearing from the curriculum, despite the overwhelming evidence of its positive impact on physical, emotional and social wellbeing.

“Dance is a collaborative process that develops teamwork, resilience, communication skills, creativity and a sense of pride. Why shouldn’t our children be afforded these opportunities?”

Across the two weekends, the 1,200 dancers will be performing to 2,000 people, who will see how schools have interpreted the theme in different ways.

In an extension to the 2019 festival, through funding from Arts Council England, Engage & Inspire will be giving participating children the chance to work with professional artists from Yorkshire and the North.

Northern Rascals and Hawk Dance Theatre are presenting specially commissioned performances, Casson & Friends and TenFoot Dance are hosting interactive workshops while Brink & Howl Creative are delivering an innovative digital dance installation combining music, dance and digital projections. Two hundred children will have the opportunity to achieve an Arts Award to reward their efforts.

Jon Beney, associate artist at Hull Truck Theatre and co-artistic director at TenFoot Dance, says: “The Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival is a great opportunity for the young dancers of Yorkshire to come together and celebrate everything dance.

As a kid, I was inspired by many people that shaped my journey and it feels nice to have stories and skills to help inspire others.”

Tickets are available at, priced at £7 for adults, £6 for children, plus a booking fee.

Charles Hutchinson

Taking part on November 16 were:

Burton Leonard CE Primary School, near Harrogate;

Clifton Green Primary School, York;

E.K Galaxy Cheer & Dance, Harrogate;

Gomersal Primary School, Cleckheaton;

Holy Trinity CE Junior School, Ripon;

Ingleton Primary School;

Ingleton Youth Dance;

Knavesmire Primary School, York;

Selby High School;

St John Fisher Catholic High School, Harrogate;

St Olave’s School, York;

The Snaith School, Goole;

Westfield Primary Community School, York;

York College Performing Arts.

November 17

CAPA College, Wakefield;

Cowling Primary School, Keighley;

Hall Cross Academy, Doncaster;

Naburn CE Primary School, York;

Osbaldwick Primary Academy, York;

Outwood Academy, Ripon;

Pannal Primary School, Harrogate;

Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy, York;

St Oswald’s CE Primary School, York;

Stamford Bridge Primary School;

The Rodillian Academy, Wakefield;

The Space Dance Studio, Hull;

Thirsk Youth Dance;

Tockwith CE Primary Academy.

Taking part on November 23 will be:

Barnsley Academy;

Bellfield Primary School, Hull;

Cast, York;

Greatwood Community Primary and Nursery;

Haxby Road Primary Academy, York;

Leavening Community Primary;

Platform, Hull;

Poppleton Road Primary School, York;

Ralph Butterfield Primary School, York;

Skipton Girls High School;

St Barnabas CE Primary School, York;

St Lawrence’s CE Primary School, York;

Trinity Academy, Halifax.

November 24

CAPA Juniors, Wakefield;

Dunnington CE Primary School, York;

Hempland Primary Academy, York;

Huntington Primary Academy, York;

Hymers College Junior School, Hull;

Lord Deramore’s Primary School, York;

Mechanics Performing Arts, Wakefield;

Melbourne Primary School, York;

Northern Dance Academy, York;

Ryburn Valley High School, Sowerby Bridge;

St Aelred’s RC Primary School, York;

St Paul’s CE Primary School, York;

St Wilfrid’s RC Primary School, York;

Staynor Hall Primary Academy, Selby;

 York Youth Dance.

Who won the big prize at York’s film festival?

FESTIVAL TRIUMPH: Sasha Rainbow’s Kofi & Lartey wins the Best Of Fest prize

SASHA Rainbow has won the Best Of Fest Award at the 2019 Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York.

More than 400 films competed in the Official Selection for the grand festival prize at the five-day event, which climaxed with Sunday’s awards ceremony at the Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens.

Rainbow’s documentary Kofi & Lartey tells the true story of a man who escaped Agbogbloshie, the electronic waste dump site near the centre of Accra, Ghana’s capital, dubbed one of the most toxic places on Earth. The 20-minute film follows him as he empowers two young boys to do the same. 

New Zealander Rainbow’s film, along with all the category winners, becomes available for consideration for the 2020 BAFTA awards.

Kofi And Lartey was among the films selected by ASFF director Cherie Federico for the Opening Night Ceremony showcase that launched the festival last Wednesday night.

Iain Cunningham was awarded Best Feature for Irene’s Ghost, his BIFA-nominated debut feature documentary account of his search for information about the mother he never knew, as Narrative and Documentary Features returned to the festival for a second year.

Delving into hard-hitting topics, the Drama strand provides the largest part of ASFF’s programme.  Best Drama was awarded to Thomas Vernay for Miss Chazelles, the story of two young rivals.

 Best Thriller went to Madamedirected by Garth Jennings, best known for 2016’s Sing and 2005’s Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.  Norteños, directed by Grandmas, took home the award for Best Comedy; Leszek Mozga won Best Animation for Roadkill; Charby Ibrahim, Best Documentary for the animated Bright Lights – The Perils Of The Pokies, a reflection on the devastating consequences of gambling. 

Tapping into the brand ethos, LEONE’s L’Incredibile, in partnership with Nike, was awarded Best Advertising;  Best Fashion went to Lola’s Manifesto, directed by Gsus Lopez and Cristian Velasco.

Usurping the idea of convention, Best Artists’ Film was presented to Rhea Storr for A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message;  Best Experimental was awarded to Samona Olanipekun for Kindred, a spirited interpretation of life in the 21st Century.

The Golden Age, directed by Eric Minh Cuong Castaing, won Best Dance, while Best Music Video went to Emmanuel Adjei for Shahmaran – Sevdaliza. 

Introducing new digital playgrounds, ASFF welcomed Virtual Reality and Immersive films into the competition for a second year. Best VR & Immersive was awarded to Virtual Viking – The Ambush, directed by Erik Gustavson, who used 106 cameras to capture Norway’s west coast, marking one of the first techniques in scripted VR drama. 

New for 2019, the Hijack Visionary Filmmaker Award recognises directors with exceptional vision and a unique cinematic voice, with the prize going to Ellie Rogers for They Found Her In A Field. 

The Polaris Award celebrates the achievements of filmmakers in the North of England, with sponsorship from Film Hub North and BFI Network, and this year’s award was received by Charlene Jones for Henceforth, an honest and raw project highlighting the grief of three siblings after the loss of their parents. 

Across the five-day run, festival-goers were invited to vote for their favourite film from the Official Selection for the People’s Choice Award, won by Garry Crystal for Down, from the Drama category. This claustrophobic short about two strangers trapped in a lift stars Amanda Donohoe, James Eeles and Paul Barber. 

Chosen by students at the Youth Engagement programme, the Youth Award was given to Lasagne, directed by Hannah Hill.

This year’s festival drew entries from 53 countries and welcomed thousands of visitors, including industry professionals, students, tourists and film enthusiasts, some travelling from as far afield as Canada, Norway, Germany. Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

Entries for the tenth anniversary festival open on December 1, with the 2020 festival dates confirmed for November 4 to 8.