Wow… Quite simply the only word that can sum up the amount of talent that Leeds University’s students have to offer. After being lucky enough to get the opportunity to watch an array of amazing performances at the LUU Dance Competition 2012, it comes as no surprise to me that many of the dancers are nothing short of world class! On Friday 24th November 2012, ten societies put their best foot forward and gave it everything they had to battle it out and claim those awards. Every society put their heart and soul into it and all delivered some rather impressive performances.
The LUU Dance Competition is an annual event honouring the Dance societies in the Union; allowing them the chance to prove their status. With three core rounds to choose from – the groups, the duets and the solos, each society can really get a chance to shine and put their best dancers centre stage to prove why they are the best society. You may ask: who determines who claims the crowning glory? Well, the judges are nothing short of talented themselves too and it’s safe to say when it comes to dance they certainly know there stuff!
Judge number one is Nathan Marsh, a dancer and choreographer who studied contemporary dance at university and specialises in lyrical hip hop. Not only has he got a strong dance education but was also a finalist on the dance talent show Got to Dance series 3 with Antics Dance Crew. The crew then went on to perform nationwide, including a performance at the Olympic Torch Relay in Birmingham!
Then judge number 2 is Raymond Pelkamoyo, the founder and artistic director of The Dance Company UK and iDance4. He studied contemporary dance and represented the UK with the Oxford Youth Dance Contemporary Company, touring across Europe. He has also dabbled in Street dance and worked alongside Nike Dance and even appeared within Streedance the movie! That’s before mentioning Raymond was also a member of the original super group – Ateam, who also starred on Got To Dance! Anyone see a recurring theme here…? Plus Raymond was also a Leeds Uni Student himself once too! So I’m pretty sure he knows exactly how the students up on stage were feeling.
Last but not least the final judge was Charlotte Plowright; an experienced performer who began dance training at the Mavis Booth School of Dance before furthering her experience by performing in The Good Old Days at the world famous City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds. Charlotte holds many titles in the world of dance including The Jamie Glover Memorial Prize for Musical Theatre Performance which she obtained while studying at the Leeds College of Music and helped secure her place at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) to earn herself a BA (Hons) Dance degree. Her dance career didn’t stop there either. She was also one of the original members of the company behind the contemporary dance show ‘Seven’ which debuted at the highly credible Arts Depo in London, as well as touring across the UK as part of the theatre company behind the production of ‘Pop Goes the 80s’. So any doubt in the Judge’s knowledge, experience and credibility to judge the competition can well and truly be washed away!
Now back to the competition itself. It all kicked off with the group round and this was quite possibly the fiercest competition of them all. From contemporary, to freestyle, to swing, to tap, you name the style and it was probably represented in some way on stage that night. Regardless of the fact each of the societies are all very different in dance form, every one still competed with just as much drive and ambition as the society before them. This meant that the winner of the group performances was perhaps one of the hardest ones to call. How the Judges managed to compare belly dancing against hip hop is anyone’s guess but they managed somehow. Although not without great debate! But an eventual winner was selected and Irish claimed first prize in the group dance. Could it be the luck of the Irish?
You may think that was all over for the group awards, but that was only just the start. Irish may have won best group but there were plenty more awards up for grabs including Best Concept, won by Dance Expose for their impressive narrative and interesting movement choices.
However, when it came down to the title that all the societies were desperate to bag the tension was so high you could cut the air with a knife! It was finally announced that Freestyle Dance was chosen as the Best Society with Street Dance coming a close second. Both very deserving of their awards, although I think it’s safe to say that any of the societies that could have won! A member of Freestyle Dance commented on their achievement by saying: ‘Tonight has just been the best night ever! It’s been absolutely amazing! The atmosphere was great; overall we’ve had an amazing night!’
This feeling was felt amongst many of the other societies too! With a member of Modern Dance saying: ‘It was just amazing! I had such a fantastic night! I love dancing and to be part of such a great team is the best feeling ever. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t win as the whole thing of just competing and enjoying it is all that really counts!’
Lorna Flint, the secretary of Freestyle added: ‘We couldn’t have asked for any more. Winning three awards, including Best Society, is just incredible! The team have worked hard over the past few weeks for a well-earned result! This sets us up for an amazing year ahead!’
This is all before I have even mentioned the solo and duet awards. Again some immense talent could be seen and some truly inspirational pieces performed. The audience sat in awe of the dancer’s flair and what can only be described as incredible performances. Best Female went to Annabel Ling from Dance Expose whose gracious movements left the audience in awe. Then Best Solo/Duet overall went to ‘2-Play’ (Philip Cheung and Yanbo Yang) whose synchronisation was on point and they both collaborated tremendously with both the music and each other, something that’s not easy to do by any stretch. Best male went to Thierry Ngutegure from Freestyle Dance who just connected with the music and had pure style. On his win he commented: ‘It’s really amazing. I can’t believe the whole thing. I’m just a small part of something huge. We, as a society, have only been running a few years and I just want to thank all of the societies for letting me take part.’
The final list of results were:
Best Female: Annabel Ling from Dance Expose
Best Male: Thierry Ngutegure from Freestyle Dance
Best Solo/Duet: Street Dance “2-Play” (Philip Cheung and Yanbo Yang)
Best Group Dance: Irish
Best Choreography: Freestyle Dance
Best Concept: Dance Expose
Runner up society: Street Dance
LUU Best Dance Society 2012: Freestyle Dance
Georgie Ketteman, the organiser of the Dance Competition and LUU Dance Representative couldn’t be happier with the success of the competition and commented: ‘I would like to say how unbelievably proud of all of the dancers I was on Friday, they all performed brilliantly and every society seems to have improved from last year! The talent was amazing and the judges have all commented on what talent we have at LUU! Putting on the competition was a complete pleasure and an honour, I loved every second of it, I’m very proud to represent such amazing dancers. I can’t wait now for the LUU Dance Show which will involve even more dancers and will run from the 27th Feb- 2nd March. If you thought the competition was good, the show will astound you!
So after a very entertaining evening I think it’s safe to say, Leeds certainly has a lot of talent and I know I wasn’t the only one who was dancing all the way home.
Image Sources: Author’s own.