Imperial Open Freestyle and Rock ‘n’ Roll Championships
19 June 2013
Christine Edwards reports from Sunday 3rd March
It was good to be back at the Spelthorne Leisure Centre, the old venue that is home to a larger sized floor and great atmosphere. When the doors opened, the dancers and their parents flooded in, all looking excited for the day ahead. This year, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ISTD DFR Faculty and the Committee went the ‘extra mile’ by decorating the venue with balloons, banners and a wonderful red carpet leading from the stage to the floor, on which all solo finalists walked.
The numbers were handed out and the day began with a warm welcome by the DFR Faculty Vice Chairman, Paul Streatfield, who continued to compère throughout the day and kept us running nicely to time. Once the adjudicators – Chairman, June Green, Moya Jordan, Nigel Kirk, Deborah Macfarlane and Joanne Regan – were welcomed to the floor, we moved on to our first event for the Under-6s Beginner Solos. Once again, the Beginner categories had the highest entries and it was good to see some strong technique at this level, showing promise for the competitors in future. Moving up the Grades, we saw the Starters all groomed and sporting a variety of brightly coloured costumes, followed by the Intermediate and Championship Grades wearing beautifully designed costumes with an abundance of rhinestones.
Watching the first rounds, it was clear that the adjudicators would have a hard task on their hands, as all standards were consistently high with dancers pushing themselves to not only make their final but to try and win and to aim for the ‘Imperial Dancer of the Year’ title. The power and strength, along with impressive flexibility, shone through in the Championship sections, with dancers producing some exceptional performances with credit due to the teachers for the creativity of their choreography. The Under-14s Championship Final was a very strong field, with eight dancers making the semi-final and only five girls making the final, wowing the audience with their highly technical and creative solo spot routines. However, the event of the day had to be the Over-16s Starter, where all 24 dancers showed a very high standard.
The atmosphere in the room continued to build as Solo presentations commenced and dancers eagerly waited to see where they had been placed. As part of the 25th anniversary celebrations, in addition to their usual trophy, every finalist received a DFR pen. Then followed the dance-offs for the highly impressive title of ‘Imperial Dancer of the Year 2013.’ The winner of this title for Beginners was Kashi Giles, who already shows controlled actions and style and an enormous talent to watch out for in the future. The Starter and Intermediate sections were won by Abi Fincham and Kelsey Murphy, respectively. Both girls exhibited well-executed moves, with a variety of jumps demonstrated with good elevation and takeoff. Finally, the overall Championships ‘Imperial Dancer of the Year 2013’ was won by Jessie Elliott, who displayed an outstanding performance, showing this talented dancer has a very bright future ahead.
After a great start to the day, the teams swiftly followed and we saw a variety of good floor patterns, energy and musicality. Pairs came next, and they did not disappoint. Throughout the levels, dancers displayed interesting choreography with great partner awareness. I particularly enjoyed the Under- 16s and Over-16s Championships, where the dynamics and relationships between partners were clearly shown within the routine choreography. The strengths within each pair were highlighted and together, the pairs in these categories especially, took the standard up a notch and was a delight to watch.
Finally, it was the long-awaited Rock ’n’ Roll section, which made a happy return to the event programme this year. This was well supported in each category. Dancers produced rhythmic and energetic performances with fabulous choreography, with a mixture of lifts thrown in. Performances creatively linked the basic Syllabus Figures with teachers’ own intricate choreography, resulting in fast, dynamic and powerful foot actions. To celebrate the 25th year, Rock ’n’ Roll included spot routines. Once again, a combination of fancy footwork and energy led to a high standard throughout. The presentations of Rock ’n’ Roll brought the day to a close, analtogether very successful and enjoyable day!