Members of the Darlington Racecourse Youth Dance Group will participate in the 2021 U.Dance National Youth Dance Festival

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

Due to the Covid pandemic, the competition had a different format in 2021, with the entire festival taking place online and groups being asked to submit a film of their chosen dance. Darlington Racecourse has engaged with local filmmaker Dave Allinson to work alongside band leader 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 where possible and online where necessary, the piece has evolved over time and focuses on the different layers of reality the group has faced during times of isolation.

Lyndsey Middleton, Head of Development and Audience Engagement at Darlington Racecourse, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen to represent the region at this exciting national event. While looking down has been a challenge for our young people, we wanted them to still have access to the best possible dance opportunities, as well as the ability to come together – albeit online – and explore what living through this time has meant for them and how it impacted their mental health and well-being.created and choreographed, led by their dance leader Debbie is a heartfelt representation of their feelings and emotions expressed through dance, and we could not be more proud of their accomplishments.”

Councilor Andy Keir said: “This is great news not just for the talented young dancers involved, but for Darlington and the wider region. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the talent, drive and determination of the young people of Darlington in highlighting an important issue in such a creative way.”

The national showcases will be held online from Friday July 16 to Sunday July 18. In addition to the film’s nationwide release, the festival will include online workshops with leading dance professionals and information on inspiring dance careers young people can participate in.


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