School of Dance Golden Celebration, Market Drayton Festival Centre - review with pictures

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On the opening night of the Market Drayton School of Dance Golden Celebration performance it was bitterly cold.

But the glow of pleasure and pride on the faces of family members in the packed audience was so warm, the Festival Centre could have turned off the heating.

Celebrating a glorious fifty years with Principal Paulette Turner at the helm, with dances representative of each decade of the school’s past achievements, ‘family’ loomed large as a theme.

Miss Turner’s daughter Lorraine Hall created much of the choreography. Lorraine’s daughter Rachel Baddeley danced an intensely expressive solo to I Can’t Make You Love Me. Anne Howell, who presented trophies after the final performance, was followed as a student at the school by her two daughters and now two grandchildren.

Personal stories in the gallery outside the auditorium abounded, as people looked for friends, family or themselves in archive photographs. The father of one performer was looking for his sister, who had danced with the school for the Queen in Shrewsbury Castle.

And in describing what putting on a performance like this meant to the children and young people involved, Lorraine Hall spoke first and foremost about the camaraderie they developed through the sense of working in a “family of dancers.”

That was evident in the way the dancers performed in their various groups, and with older students acting as models for the youngest groups – which included a two-year-old.

There were 24 dances in total, covering a wide range of styles and moods. I found much to enjoy and appreciate in them all – not least the energy, the concentration, and the love of the music and movement they demonstrated.

With no personal connection to any of the dancers, and stressing that my opinions are subjective, and unsupported by knowledge of dancing technique, I think its fair to list my personal favourites.


I loved the first of the tap dances, to Candyman, in which the ensemble wore pink-and-white candy-striped tights. A wide variety of costumes contributed character throughout the evening and never more playfully than here.

I hugely enjoyed the contemporary dance pieces performed by older students, especially the expressiveness and storytelling in London Calling. I thought the tap dance to the Mexican folk tune La Bamba was an imaginative mixing of cultures well executed. And the show-stopping pizzazz of ‘42nd Street’ was thrilling.

I have often thought that the sound of a symphony orchestra tuning up is the most exciting sound in the world. I have to thank the youngest group to dance tap for giving me an equivalent from the world of dance.

Whereas the curtain opened as a surprise on all the other dances, their getting in position sounded like hail falling on a tin roof. It gave me my biggest smile of the evening (and once the curtain opened they had a spirited go at Buttons and Bows).

By John Hargreaves


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