Imperial Open Freestyle Championships
26 June 2012
Report from Sunday 4th March 2012
I was excited and really looking forward to the day ahead. On arrival at the new venue, Feltham Community College, rain was pouring down outside but this certainly did not dampen any enthusiasm inside. The venue was packed to capacity with competitors and spectators alike and the atmosphere was buzzing, as here inside were the Imperial Open Freestyle Championships 2012!
“The dancers produced beautiful, clean, extended lines that were fluid and rhythmical, displaying great musicality”
The day began with a Street Dance lecture given by the very accomplished Alison Anderson, ably assisted by Alex, Dollie and Elle. The lecture was split into two groups; Beginner/Starter dancers and Intermediate/Championship dancers. Both lectures were extremely popular and considering the time constraints, provided dancers with some great and innovative Street moves, fabulously demonstrated and making a vibrant start to the Championships day. The music was supplied by Justin Light and, along with Ivor Baker’s stunning display of trophies and the lighting, created an electric visual that was infectious amongst both competitors and supporters.
Following an introduction from Paul Streatfield who eloquently compèred and maintained a professional continuity all day, we were welcomed by DFR Faculty Chairman, Yvonne Taylor-Hill. The adjudicators were introduced – Alison Anderson, Alan Beale, Moya Jordan, Anna Prendeville and Liz Young – then on to the Solo events and the Beginner Grade. The Beginners were absolutely lovely and sported the biggest entries of the day which is extremely refreshing and encouraging for teachers and the future of competitive Freestyle. They were beautifully groomed and correctly attired; in particular the Under 6s who had enthusiasm in abundance and an eagerness to win, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. For me, the Starter Grades had the hardest task of the day, as their standard was so incredibly high. Any one of the competitors in the semi-final was worthy of a place in the finals and for those who made it through, this was an excellent achievement.
It was clear that the Intermediate competitors were striving to produce a Championship standard of dancing, pushing their competitive edge to the limit, hoping to make the final with the possibility of winning and representing their age group in the ‘Imperial Dancer of the Year.’ In short, the Intermediate finals were simply stunning. As I expected, the Championship Grade did not disappoint, the standard was exceptional, full of powerful brilliance that was a pleasure to watch. Each and every Championship dancer was a credit to their teachers’ choreography which was expertly interpreted and demonstrated with sheer exuberance. Worthy of a special mention was the Under 16 Championship Girls’ final where the Solo spots were extremely technical and high powered which undoubtedly made it the strongest and most contested final of the day.
Following the completion of all finals and presentations for the Solo events was the prestigious highlight of the day, the highly coveted title ‘Imperial Dancer of the Year.’ The winner of the ‘Imperial Beginner Dancer of the Year’ was Kaysha Cooper, trained by Charlotte Colbran. Kaysha, the winner of the Under 10 Beginners, gave a wonderful performance of dance that was beautifully executed and very well controlled for her age, making her a very worthy winner of the title. The ‘Imperial Starter Dancer of the Year’ was won by Alicia Tickner, trained by Paul Streatfield. A fast routine, packed full of interesting choreography, was brilliantly performed by Alicia, who as the Under 16 Starter winner had a great combination of dance dynamics and style. In the Intermediate section the winner of the ‘Imperial Intermediate Dancer of the Year’ was Hannah Toovey, also trained by Paul Streatfield. Hannah who won the Over 16 Intermediate section gave a powerful demonstration with a routine packed full of variety with intricate and creative moves making her a pleasure to watch. The winner of the ‘Imperial Championship Dancer of the Year’ was Joe Atkinson, trained by Caroline Black and winner of the Over 16 Boys section. An incredible dancer with an outstanding routine full of controlled elevations and amazing power, Joe is undoubtedly talented and a credit to Freestyle dancing.
After such a fabulous display of Solo dancing, culminating in the ‘Imperial Dancer of the Year’, the Pairs competitions were eagerly anticipated and did not fail to disappoint. From Beginner to Championship Grades the choreography was well executed and exciting to watch. The stylish and varied content to the routines provided a great combination of dance performance creating tough competition all round. All winners from Beginner, Intermediate and Championship categories were worthy winners and a credit to their teachers and schools alike. I particularly enjoyed the Championship Grade Pairs spots as the choreography was innovative and played to the strengths of the individual dancers within the pair, producing some great dance highlights and outstanding performances.
Following the completion of the Pairs events and the presentations was the supporting event of the day, Graded Slow, which was very well supported in every category. The Novice section had the greatest number of entries and in some cases, dancers had to dance five or six times before reaching a final! The finals in this grade were of a very high standard from the younger age groups to the more experienced older competitors. The dancers produced beautiful, clean, extended lines that were fluid and rhythmical, displaying great musicality. In the Intermediate section dancers showed some outstanding work with strong and powerful moves that were lyrical in style with an inner feeling for the music. Once again the Intermediates pushed their competitive edge to the limit striving to achieve the finals with grace and determination. The last finals of the day were the Championship Graded Slow which were absolutely breathtaking. Here we saw the dancers’ ability to contrast movements between different genres, such as Contemporary and Ballet influences, to produce work of outstanding quality. In particular, the winner of the Adult Slow, Joe Atkinson, managed to encapsulate this genre brilliantly with an incredible performance that was a pleasure to watch.
The presentations of the Graded Slow brought the 2012 Imperial Open Freestyle Championships to a close. After a day of outstanding Freestyle dancing, at an event organised to the highest professional standards by the DFR Faculty Committee, it was time to go home. The 2012 Imperial Championships provided quality dancing, outstanding winners, stunning trophies and prizes. A varied and extensive programme which coupled together can mean only one thing – a resounding success all round, so bring on the Imperial Championships 2013!
All photos by Richard Chubb of DE Photos