Youngsters leap into action for 44th Festival of Dance

THE hopes and dreams of dancers were high yesterday when the 44th Guernsey Festival of Dance got under way.

Ranging from pre-schoolers to 20-year-olds, the event at the Beau Sejour Leisure Centre was awash with colour.

A busy backstage area saw hundreds of young people preparing themselves for their performance, donning outfits and makeup and doing last-minute rehearsals as they got ready to impress both parents and spectators, as well as the amateur stage competition’s returning UK adjudicator, Jill Redford.

‘I remember being a festival mother,’ she said.

‘I have two boys and they got involved, it’s very exciting and although I am here to judge and offer my comments, I can also understand what the parents and the dancers are going through.

‘There’s definitely been a great standard so far, having been here last year, I remember how good it was then and I can see even more hard work has been put in since, which is fantastic.’

Adjudicator Jill Redford. (29128138)

Although Ms Redford adjudicated last year, this year was a bit different because she had to arrive two weeks early in order to self-isolate and return a negative Covid test in order to take part.

‘Everyone here is so lucky,’ she said.

‘Covid has shown how important physical and mental health is, they are basically one and the same, and this event and what those taking part and those who come to watch, the benefits they take from it, are what it’s all about.

‘It’s been a big commitment to be able to do this, I know though that it’s great fun.’

Organised by the festival’s not-for-profit committee volunteers, there are 702 dancers overall taking part from across the island’s dance schools.

About 680 classes will go ahead, with more than 40 trophies up for grabs for a mixture of genres, including Greek, jazz, classical and tap with lots of singing, acting and just pure dancing along the way.

Many routines are inspired by films and fairytales, including eight-year-old Robyn Langford’s Into the Woods with her dance troupe from the Avril Earl Dance and Theatre Arts Centre.

Trios and Quartets – Classical Under 20: Amelia Hudson, Francesca Miller, Jennifer Long and Isabelle Lees performing 'Preparing For Battle'. (29126909)

‘We are dressed like Little Red Riding Hood,’ she said. ‘We’ve been practising every Thursday and we’re ready to do our best.

‘I’ve got nine dances during the week. This is ballet but tap is my favourite.’

Dressed in a butterfly-themed outfit was seven-year-old Isla Withers’ second foray into the competition, having entered in 2018.

‘I’m kind of nervous,’ she said. ‘I think about whether I’ll do something wrong, I just hope I don’t and enjoy it.’

  • The event lasts until Saturday and tickets can be purchased from with any surplus funds once the festival ends being donated to a charity which supports children.

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