Reflecting on U.Dance 2016

PYDC at UDance 15 workshop - Sarah Hall

It only seems like yesterday when Youth Dance England approached us to ask whether The Lowry would be interested in hosting U.Dance 2016, the national youth dance festival (in fact it was almost 3 years ago) and of course we were over the moon. U.Dance NW, the regional youth dance platform, has been a huge part of our Learning and Engagement dance programme for the last 8 years and so the opportunity to bring young people together from across the country to celebrate dance at The Lowry was pretty exciting!

Over the last 12 months we’ve been working hard to make all our ideas a reality; and with the fantastic support from everyone involved, the young people had an incredibly fun and inspiring weekend! From the opening night, to the final curtain call it was one amazing highlight after another.

Here are just a few of ours but we’re sure you’ve got many of your own!:

1. Watching proudly in the wings whilst our amazing students from The Lowry Centre for Advanced Training performed their new piece ‘Axon’ choreographed by Phoenix Dance Theatre. They performed with incredible professionalism, opening the festival on The Lyric stage alongside The National Youth Dance Company!

2. Seeing 300 young people from across the country having a ball at the festival welcome event; dancing together for the first time outside the Imperial War Museum North alongside dancers and musicians from Folk Dance Remixed.

3. Watching our amazing North West youth dance groups Ludus, Eden and Preston doing their region proud on the Lyric stage and dancing along with all the national companies during their fabulously joyful curtain calls!

4. The relief when the rain held off despite the terrible forecast and seeing the young people from the Dance on Water company (led by Re:Bourne and CART) and our own youth dance company ‘Commotions’ having the time of their lives performing outside The Lowry with a huge crowd!

5. Seeing The Lowry come alive with dance, with groups performing right across the building as part of the Signatures performance trail (in partnership with Dance Manchester). It showed the building at its best; bright and exciting with performance at its heart.

All the above wouldn’t have been possible without the most amazing hard working, dedicated, passionate people from The Lowry and One Dance UK – right across both organisations from all departments – who all worked amazingly together over the last few months and during the weekend to make it come together so well. Thank you so much to every member of staff and volunteer who had a part in supporting the festival. What a team!! You brought the festival to life for us!

Ludus Dance Company

A big thankyou to our amazing dance artists at The Lowry who have given our CAT & Commotion’s students the time of their lives. And not forgetting the amazing people from Salford Uni, Dance Manchester, Re:Bourne, CART, Birmingham Hippodrome, Folk Dance Remixed and English Folk Dance and Song Society who brought the festival to life for us! It’s been so great working with you all!!

And finally a special huge thank you to Jade Aitchison, Jennifer Doherty, Aimee Baker and Sally Hendry who did an incredible job of planning and delivering the festival without whom it would not have been such a success.

I’ll end with this quote that I came across whilst reading through some old emails from my mother who was a teacher and loved dance.

“This weather is lovely, it must inspire your colleagues with their dance ideas. Oh to be so fit , I could dance along the Quays. Now, there’s an idea. I don’t mean me…loads of children. You could all be like Isadora Duncan leading the way.”

What a poignant quote!! Mum loved coming to The Lowry and seeing the work that we do. She thought we had the best jobs in the world and she was absolutely right!

Many thanks again to all who contributed in making U.Dance 2016 an experience that the young people will never forget!!

Written by Sally Wyatt, Centre for Advanced Training Manager at The Lowry