By Bryony Newey and Ira Moskadina
Team Durham’s Dance Troupe will most definitely remember the 5th of November. In front of over 100 guests including former England cricket captains Paul Collingwood and Sir Ian Botham, the thirteen-girl troupe performed a fifteen-minute routine at the luxury Rockliffe Hall Hotel in Darlington in aid of the Beefy Foundation, Sir Ian Botham’s charity.
Performing at college, university and external events, over the course of the past few years, Team Durham’s Dance Troupe has made a name for itself as one of the most sought after performing groups that the University has to offer. Operating at consistently high standards, year upon year, there is tremendous competition to break into one of the University’s elite dance groups. With numbers rarely climbing above ten, auditions are held at the beginning of the year so that we have a settled group with which to rehearse and perform on a consistent basis. Criteria are specific with dancers required to be well rounded and strong enough to cope with the rigorous demands of high-level and frequent performances. In an average week, we rehearse as a group for between six and twelve hours.
As a team, we have always prided ourselves on choreographing all of our own routines in various styles, including commercial street, jazz, hip-hop and contemporary. We specialise in creating pieces to fit specific themes, such as the tribal inspired commercial street routine, performed at the Africa themed Hatfield Charity Fashion Show 2014 and our cabaret jazz routine performed at St Mary’s Valentines Themed Fashion Show 2014. The pieces are normally three to five minutes long, but the team have choreographed and performed considerably longer routines, such as our fifteen-minute piece produced for Castle June Ball 2014, following an earth, pagan and tribal theme. However, the opportunity to perform for the Beefy Foundation was a first leap into the unknown of performing for external non-student audiences.
The opportunity came about thanks to a terrific performance from the troupe at the ‘I Dreamed a Fashion Dream’ University College Charity Fashion Show. We were approached afterwards by Tim Tavanyar from a company called Already Sorted. Having already been impressed by the quality of our routine at the Hild Bede Military Charity Fashion Show and the University Charity Fashion Show where we performed Jazz and Contemporary pieces, he enquired as to whether we would be interested in performing at external charity events. Only a couple of months later, we received our invitation to do this performance.
The evening began with an eerie performance from six of the team outside the ballroom, with dancers dressed up as scary children to complement the outdoor decorations and fireworks. Following the first two courses of the meal, we then made our appearance, providing the night’s main source of entertainment. The work, choreographed by ourselves, was a combination of different routines, all focused on the overall theme for the evening of Halloween. With sixteen different costumes and three costume changes, this was anything but a basic routine for our group.
The first three routines moved from cabaret, musical theatre and jazz for the ‘Rocky Horror Show’ section, before switching to hip-hop for the drumstep remix of ‘This is Halloween’. The Rocky Horror Show section was designed to look like a flashmob, with the group entering the stage from the back of the banqueting hall and surprising all the guests by dancing between the tables. Ellie Webb choreographed a fun, stylised piece that combined musical theatre with modernism alongside the track ‘They don’t scare me’. This was followed by Olivia Fox’s elegant contemporary choreography to Florence and the Machine’s song ‘Seven Devils.’ Juliet Fu Liyuan choreographed a powerful commercial street routine to Kanye West’s ‘Black Skinhead’, before co-captain Ira Moskadina took charge of the last five minutes, incorporating a fast paced, energetic routine to a medley of remixed Michael Jackson songs, ending with the original choreography to Thriller. Although exhausting, the final five minutes of the performance brought a rapturous response from the impressed crowd. Full of vibrancy and enthusiasm throughout, even the medley of Michael Jackson songs managed to feature elements of the Halloween theme.
Sir Ian and his daughter and event organiser Sarah were delighted with our performance, claiming: “the dance troupe were sensational, a 15 minute performance took some effort and the room was mesmerised for the full show. We will be using them again.”
Similarly, Tim Tavanyar, to whom we owe our opportunity, raved about our performance: ‘I loved Troupe’s Show, seriously so impressive and tightly performed. All the people I spoke to agreed that the performance and entertainment were fantastic. Well done!
However, far more important than our performance is that the Beefy Foundation and the five charities that it supports shall benefit from the evening. All money raised on the evening is being split between Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Cardiac Risk in the Young, Juvenile Diabetes, Brain Tumour Research and Support across Yorkshire and Battens Disease. Sarah Botham added that “although we know that donations from the evenings are well into the thousands, we are delighted to say that pledges are still coming in. It was a fantastic evening, enjoyed by all, raising funds for the Beefy Charity Foundation.”
Photograph: Johnny Macauley