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Disco Freestyle - Rock 'n' Roll Medallist Competition

26 January 2012

Two reviews of a fantastic event on 22 January 2012 in Sussex / Surrey Area.

When asked to give a short summary from today’s very first ISTD qualifying event, I was extremely conscious of trying to relay the atmosphere and sheer passion of dance that was so incredibly apparent. This Area Competition in East Grinstead is renowned for having such a high standard of dancing and today the bar was lifted even higher.

The competitors were privileged to have the DFR Faculty Chairman, Yvonne Taylor-Hill on the adjudicating panel alongside DFR Faculty Committee members, Rachel Wadey and Maria Howse.

After all the Set Dances had been performed for the first time it was clear that the teachers and pupils alike, had indeed been working extremely hard to perfect and practice their routines for the new competitive year. From the Under 8’s right through to Over 16’s Gold Star & Awards each Set Dance category was clearly a strong one. As teachers, we all consistently work hard in our classes to ensure all pupils are dancing their routines correctly and to then watch our class work being delivered on the dance floor fills us all with pride.

I can honestly say that if the standard witnessed here today in the Set Dance is an insight of the competitions to come…..then Grand Finals Day is going to be absolutely incredible! After the first Set Dance event of the season, our Chairman, Yvonne Taylor-Hill praised both teachers and pupils, congratulating everyone on their obvious hard work, the overall standard and the pleasing interpretation of the new ¾ time routines. There was also a reminder to perform the Set Dances with clarity ensuring all Steps and Movements are performed correctly.

The Team section was next and it was lovely to see so many Beginner Teams with such clever, intricate and interesting choreography and formations. It is always a pleasure to watch the teams and appreciate and understand the hard work and commitment that has gone into each lesson for weeks prior to the competition.

Solos were next and the floor was lit with fluorescent colours and shimmering diamante which looked stunning as dancers took to the floor. I was very impressed with the high level of entries in the majority of sections and how all dancers found the energy to dazzle the judges as they whizzed round the dance floor. The Under 6’s were adorable and correctly danced their way anti-clockwise whilst all stopping to have a little wave to their Mums and teachers who were all supporting their little darlings from the side lines. Overall the standard was sky high but in my opinion it was the Under 16’s and Over 16’s Beginners that had really come on leaps and bounds from what was an already strong category in the previous year.

The fourth event was Rock ‘n’ Roll and yet again the footwork and clever use of the Syllabus Steps was outstanding. There was a real strong progression as we moved through the medal grades, as we would expect, and the Under 14 and Over 14 Gold Star & Awards were just show stopping! The speed, intricacy, dancers' own choreography as well as the solid core strength needed for some of the lifts were just amazing. Clearly there has been a lot of hard work, time and effort gone in to preparing for this competition.

Pairs were the last event and the atmosphere was still electric and all schools were still cheering and applauding loudly and enthusiastically. The Under 10’s and Under 12 Bronze & Below were showing fantastic choreography and all really performed with superb timing, knowing exactly when to start to the beat of the music. Looking at the dancers it was lovely to see how much effort had gone into the presentation of the costumes and overall matching of ‘togetherness’. I have to applaud the Over 16 Gold Star & Awards for dancing so impeccably. The couples flew round the dance floor with amazing spins, leaps, and contact work and yet the speed and the complete control of their dancing was superb.

I would like to thank Jonathan Reed and Christine Edwards for producing yet another fantastic event that is always so well organised and enjoyed by all who attend.

I am positive that all teachers and dancers had a really fantastic day and are looking forward to what I am sure will be an exciting season ahead.

Laura Rampton - DFR Faculty Committee Member

On 22nd January twelve Dance Schools set out on a nice bright morning for the Sussex / Surrey Disco Freestyle, Rock ‘n’ Roll Area Medallist Competition at the Kings Leisure Centre, East Grinstead.

The atmosphere, as soon as you entered the hall, was warm and friendly and we had a bright welcome from the Organiser, Jonathan Reed followed by the usual warnings and reminders of the rules.

We were lucky to have as adjudicators, the Chairman of the DFR Faculty, Yvonne Taylor-Hill and two members of the DFR Faculty Committee, all of whom were on the Set Dance selection panel. 

The Set Dance competitions were of a good standard with great accuracy and enthusiasm at all grades and beautiful control for all the slow work especially in the younger ages and lower grades.  It must have been a hard task for the judges.

After the Set Dance competition, Yvonne Taylor-Hill praised the standard of all the line dancers and applauded the teachers for the work they had put in to get these ready in time. She explained that the judges were looking for accuracy of routine, not always your own interpretation. If she had any criticism at all, it was that in the 3/4 timing dances there was slightly too much individual interpretation, not always thinking of the timing. No doubt this will improve with practice.

The Teams were next and there was a change of judges for this event. There were eleven teams in all and a good contrast of styles.

The Solos section was a high energy event, lower grades conforming to dress rules with some spectacular outfits at the higher levels all complimenting the dancing. The Organiser, Jonathan Reed, commented that the standard of the Solos had improved tremendously since he had been coming.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll section had nine straight finals but there were a good number of couples in the higher grades. The dancing was of a very high standard with the lower grades pushing the syllabus to its limits.

The Pairs produced some good rhythmic dancing with an overall outstanding use of floor craft and a (mercifully) boring day for the St John’s Ambulance representatives.

I gave a questionnaire to all my pupils asking them what they thought of the competition. One of them called it the ‘Work in Progress Competition’ because it is the first competition for the new Set Dances and she realised that more work was needed to achieve a higher standard. Another said that she liked the smaller competitions like this one and that they gave her the incentive to improve.  One young lady liked seeing other dancers and how they interpret the dances as well as their creativity in Pairs, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Solos. This must be encouraging to all Organisers and teachers to know that our work is worthwhile and competitions like this encourage our young students to aim higher.

Yvonne Taylor-Hill concluded by saying that it had been a wonderful day and she had really enjoyed it and the dancing had been fantastic.  I think we all agreed with her.  The organisation on the day was really fine-tuned, ran like clock work, with all sections finishing on time.  Well done Organisers!

Linda Fountain



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