DFR National Grand Finals Day
5 December 2011
Stacey Attrill, Joanna Bevan, Claire Blome and Claire Haynes report on this year’s Grand Finals, held on 9th October at the Guildford Spectrum
It was October… it was cold and very early on a Sunday morning… it was time for National Grand Finals Day 2011! Everyone has been working incredibly hard over the past year and it all boiled down to one day, when the best of the area competitors compete to become ‘the best of the best’ and win the coveted sashes, goody bags and most importantly, the fabulous trophies!
As we walked into the Guildford Spectrum the queue had already started to form with dancers nervously polishing their routines, checking each other’s steps and adding that final bit of hairspray and lip-gloss. The day started brightly with an impressive 45 schools taking part in the schools parade. Dancers were carrying banners of all sizes. Some were big, some small, some even had fairy lights on them. Clearly some teachers must have been burning the midnight oil to get them finished in time! As the school representatives were led around the floor by the newly re-elected Chairman and Vice Chairman of the DFR Faculty, Yvonne Taylor-Hill and Paul Streatfield, the atmosphere began to grow. The familiar voice of Nicky Miles welcomed the schools to the floor and before we knew it, Guildford 2011 was underway.
“The routines had been worked on with dedication and determination”
We started promptly with the Set Dance competition, which was adjudicated by former and existing members of the DFR Faculty Committee. Despite the fact it has been said before, the standard of the Set Dance finals is phenomenal and rises every year. Even from the first round, any of the dancers could have been winners. As we worked through the heats, the dancers never failed to amaze me with their boundless energy and enthusiasm. The fast Freestyle routines were impressive at all levels, the Street style routines were danced with attitude and conviction, whereas the Slow dances were gracefully performed with elegance and maturity – well above the young competitors’ years. As lunchtime approached, the grand finals were upon us. A renewed buzz of excitement filled the room. The Under 8s performed their funky pop routine with an infectious enthusiasm which brought smiles to everyone in the arena. Congratulations to the winner, Phoebe Debnam, who showed a beautifully polished performance for someone so young. At the other end of the scale, the Under 14 Gold Star and Awards attacked their fast routine with precision and strength. The winner of this section, Chloe Barrett-Blake, danced the routine with incredibly impressive spin and kick work. In a large number of competitions this year the boys really held their own and gave the girls a run for their money! All the dancers who made Grand Finals’ Day were winners already. However, selecting the final award-winning six dancers was an unenviable task for the adjudicators. They definitely had their work cut out!
Thank you DFR Faculty Committee for all your hard work towards the Set Dance competition this year. From reviewing the dances for the DVD, through to choosing the dancer to stand at the top of the podium, the 2011 competition has been a year to remember. Now it is time for us all to get the 2012 Set Dance DVD out and start learning the new routines ready for next year!
The Set Dance event was finally over and, far from relaxing and chilling out, the dancers were filled with enthusiasm for the next event… Pairs! It was 2pm by the time it got underway and the organisers were keen to get things moving. A quick change of costume, a change of adjudicators and we were off. The dancers very quickly lined up on the floor and suddenly a very different style to what the last four hours had shown us was apparent. The fast-paced routines were stretching the competitors’ stamina but some of these dancers looked like they could dance forever, with their high kicks and fast spins not deterring them from that first place trophy. I am sure this gets said every year but the standard just seemed so much higher. I loved the togetherness and partner awareness of the couples. The creativity was immense and the choreography was already inspiring me with new ideas for my own pupils next season. It is good to see some new moves on the dance floor especially when pupils try to incorporate other dance styles into their Pairs routines, inspired I am sure by the new Street Dance and Hip Hop syllabus; I personally loved it.
After only 45 minutes, the first final was announced; things were looking good until I realised it was one of the smaller events, the Under 12 Gold Star. We then continued on for another hour. How did they manage to get through all those children in such a short space of time? I think the organisers have done this before! The finals were such a high standard and once again it was encouraging to see many variations of syllabus Figures and Compound steps used with such control and finish; these routines had been worked on with dedication and determination. The sequences of steps were very confidently executed with good facial expressions and eye contact not only with the adjudicators, but also with the audience around them, these children know how to sell a dance!
Overall the Pairs event was, once again, a very exciting competition to watch and no doubt gave everybody some fantastic ideas and inspiration. I am sure we all look forward to the high standard of next season’s Disco Freestyle events.
Rock ‘n’ Roll
I am sure everyone will agree with me when I say that this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Grand Finals was absolutely outstanding! As the many children were practising beforehand you could see how excited they all were for this competition. The smiles were beaming, all the qualifiers were full of energy and each couple was adding those finishing touches to their routines.
As the event got underway we started with the Under 8s whose ability continues to astound me. Their costumes were wonderful and the energy they put in was incredible. As we moved up through the age groups and medals you could see how much work the teachers had put into this year, as the routines were very inventive and had some wonderful new moves in them. Everyone had kept to the syllabus requirements well and all footwork was technically correct. I must add that the attention to detail and the flamboyancy of the older competitors’ costumes seem to improve each year. It was also wonderful to see so many boy and girl couples there.
The Gold Star categories were exceptional, these pupils had worked tirelessly for this final and I think the adjudicators had a very difficult job in judging these events. As we reached the Finals the excitement was overwhelming as each couple’s number was called out. From the Under 8s to the Over 16 Gold Stars each couple was bursting as they went onto the floor for the last time and all danced with everything they had. Choosing a winner was a huge challenge in itself.
As the time for prize giving arrived, the finalists waited with anticipation for Nicky to announce their places. They glowed with pride for the cameras as they received their trophies. I feel as a teacher that all of us should be proud of our pupils’ performances this year and I am sure all pupils and parents had an amazing day all round. Here’s to next year’s regional competitions and this amazing Rock ‘n’ Roll finals event to be held at Guildford in 2012.
With four main events already completed, the enthusiasm did not dim as the competition progressed. After nine hours of dancing it seemed that the only people who were worn out were the spectators – I think the dancers could have gone on forever. The atmosphere had not dimmed and the energy of the dancers is unbelievable. Dancers had changed from their Rock ‘n’ Roll outfits into some amazing dazzling and brightly coloured, stoned costumes.
All Beginner sections were well presented and took note of all dress rules. The standard of these dancers as they filled the dance floor going anti-clockwise around the room, was brilliant. There was so much energy for the Gold Star and Above categories with the control of all dancers and elevated movements; it was a sight to see. I just could not take my eyes off the dance floor and it was difficult for me to know where to look.
The Over 25s section was the best I had ever seen. This year we saw kicks, jumps and splits performed so very professionally by the ‘mature’ dancers. The adjudicators definitely had their work cut out in all the Solo events as the dancers truly get better and better every year.
Hats off to all teachers as their well-choreographed routines were performed fantastically with moves shown to perfection. The enthusiasm of all the dancers today is breathtaking. The technique, poise, stamina and timing of the Solo routines are a credit to all the teachers. It is clear that the DFR Faculty is so versatile now with its Disco Freestyle, Street, Slow Dances and Rock ‘n’ Roll routines improving year on year. As a teacher it makes me so proud to be part of the DFR Faculty and also this amazing occasion. What an excellent way to finish such a great day!
This was the biggest and best Grand Finals Day ever. Well done to all competitors who took part. You are all stars and help to make this a very special day. Special thanks to Nicky Miles as our compère and his team of scrutineers. Thanks to the adjudicators and all on the DFR Faculty Committee, teachers, dancers, and spectators. You made the day truly unforgettable. What a great end to 2011. Diary Date – National Grand Finals Day 2012 – 14th October!
RESULTS for 2011
U6/8 Rosettes – Phoebe Debnam
U10 Social Dance Test/Pre-Bronze – Paige Noctor
U12 Social Dance Test/Pre-Bronze – Phoebe Ansell
U14 Bronze/Below – Eliot Manning
O14 Bronze/Below – Gemma Cuff
U10 Bronze/Silver – Grace Scannell
U12 Bronze/Silver – Sophie Beale
O25 all Grades – Mandy Godbold
U12 Gold/Above – Lydia Mackett
U14 Silver/Gold – Ellie Beeson
O14 Silver/Gold – Emily Cowley
U14 Gold Star/Awards – Chloe Barrett-Blake
U16 Gold Star/Awards – Hayley Young
O16 Gold Star/Awards – Jade McGeoch
Rock ‘n’ Roll
U6/8 Rosettes – Rosie Morgan/Sophie England
U10 Social Dance Test/Pre-Bronze – Jolie Jerram/Elaina Gilbert
U12 Social Dance Test/Pre-Bronze – Olivia Young/Eleanor Howard
U14 Bronze/Below – Eliot Manning/India Bavester
O14 Bronze/Below – Kayley Campling/Mitchel Porter
U10 Bronze/Silver – Megan Atkins/Grace Scamnnell
U12 Bronze/Silver – Esme Killick/Tilly Ennals
U12 Gold/Above – Alisha Taylor/Aaron Lloyd
U14 Silver/Gold – Alice Steers/Maddie Killick
O14 Silver/Gold – Emily Clements/Lauren Gaeta
U14 Gold Star/Above – Jack Willmore/Jorgia Vaughan
U16 Gold Star/Above – Betsy Morton/Chloe Barrett-Blake
O16 Gold Star/Above – Max Willegers/Bronte Willegers