Youngsters step out at Washington dance convention

Dance choreographer Robert Hamilton with young hopefuls in a dance scholarship audition at Washington Leisure Centre, on Monday.
Dance choreographer Robert Hamilton with young hopefuls in a dance scholarship audition at Washington Leisure Centre, on Monday.
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Hundreds of twinkle-toed youngsters came together to pursue their dreams of stardom.

Dance schools from across the North East took part in an event at Washington Leisure Centre with the chance to learn from some big names in choreography.

Dance choreographer Robert Hamilton with young hopefuls in a dance scholarship audition at Washington Leisure Centre, on Monday.

Dance choreographer Robert Hamilton with young hopefuls in a dance scholarship audition at Washington Leisure Centre, on Monday.

The Rising Stars Dance Convention attracted more than 250 youngsters from as far afield as Yorkshire.

Lecturers included multiple Disco Kid title winner Laura Daley; X Factor dancer Ross John; Britain’s Got Talent star Ben Davies; and West End performer Robert Hamilton, whose groups Dance Illusion and Fear of the Unknown have performed professionally after appearing on Britain’s Got Talent and Sky’s Got to Dance.

Talent spotters were on hand to keep an eye on the dancers, with two fully-funded scholarship places to study for a BA Hons Degree in Dance and Musical Theatre at Addict Dance Academy in Leicester – worth £20,000 a place – up for grabs.

Emilie Thelwell, from Newton Aycliffe, and Beatrice Middleditch, from Grimsby, were the lucky winners.

Amelia Tyler, from Middlesborough, claimed the Rising Stars title on the day.

Organiser Clare Walton was delighted with the response from both lecturers and students.

“We had 256 dancers taking part, from aged seven upwards, she said.

“It was just electric – that is the only word I can use to explain how the room felt on the day. Every child was just going for it – it was a fantastic day.”

The convention had been an effort to shift the north/south divide in dance a little, said Clare.

“Normally, everything that goes on in dance happens in London,” she added.

“Rising Stars was about trying to bring a little bit of it back to the north.

“We have got so much talent here in the region and we wanted to do something that would give people a chance to show what they can do, to give people an experience of what the real audition process is like.

“I know some of the lecturers already, others I hadn’t worked with before, but they were all brilliant and the response from everyone taking part has been absolutely fantastic.

“We have had people coming up to us to say how much they had enjoyed it and they have been asking when the next one will be.

“Now we know we can do something like this,it is all systems go for next time.”