Hundreds of Sunderland pupils in festival of dance

BBC Look North presenter Jeff Brown, compare at the 33rd Sunderland Schools Dance Festival at the Sunderland Empire with some of the contestants, from Hill View Junior School.
BBC Look North presenter Jeff Brown, compare at the 33rd Sunderland Schools Dance Festival at the Sunderland Empire with some of the contestants, from Hill View Junior School.

Excited youngsters took to the stage for Sunderland’s annual dance festival.

Pupils from across the city took part in the 33rd Sunderland Schools Dance Festival, which was once again hosted by television presenter, Jeff Brown.

BBC Look North presenter Jeff Brown, compare at the 33rd Sunderland Schools Dance Festival at the Sunderland Empire with some of the contestants, from Hill View Junior School.

BBC Look North presenter Jeff Brown, compare at the 33rd Sunderland Schools Dance Festival at the Sunderland Empire with some of the contestants, from Hill View Junior School.

The festival, which was held at the Sunderland Empire, was as popular as ever with more than 400 children taking part.

Developed by the University of Sunderland’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, this year’s theme was Games and Gaming.

The aim of the festival is to celebrate young people’s dancing ability in a non-competitive environment.

And, for the children it is an amazing chance to perform on a huge, professional stage.

Its aim is to celebrate the achievements of our young people in Sunderland

Lesley Younger

The festival was the brainchild of Lesley Younger, now a dance consultant with the university.

It originated as part of a Masters degree dissertation into the innovation and development of dance in education. It started at Monkwearmouth Comprehensive School, with just three schools taking part, but continued to grow into the major event it is today.

Lesley said: “The festival is non-competitive, rather its aim is to celebrate the achievements of our young people in Sunderland.

“Now in it’s 33rd year, it is open to all schools in Sunderland.”

For many of the teachers it is part of their year, with some having taken part for more than 13 years.

This year 23 schools entered teams into the festival and and Lesley said they were delighted to be performing in the Empire theatre.

The 2018 festival theme of Games and Gaming, included both traditional and modern dance and inspired a wide range of pieces.

These included Bernard Gilpin’s Street Fighter, a hip-hop dance with a Kung Fu twist, inspired by the old game Street Fighter, and Redby Academy’s Checkmate, in the attempt to protect their king, two sides of the chessboard went head to head in a challenging battle.

Lesley said a huge amount of work is put in by the schools to bring together the festival, which once again had a wonderfully varied programme.