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Shahck Out Youth Dance through to National U Dance Festival

24th June 2022

Shahck Out Youth Dance have been selected to represent Yorkshire at the U Dance National Festival 2022 in Birmingham on 23rd July. Here to explain more about the festival, and all the hard work that’s gone into getting there, is RJC Dance Youth Provision alumna, dance artist and choreographer Nillanthie Morton.

So, what exactly is U Dance?

U Dance is a national event that brings together the best youth dance groups from across England. It’s on a large scale – every style of dance is included, from Hip Hop to Contemporary. Each group chosen to be there will attend career development workshops, perform and represent their region on a national stage.

What did Shahck Out Youth Dance do to be selected?

The Yorkshire region selected groups to represent them via the regional dance platform FRESH, which took place at Leeds City College and Leeds Playhouse earlier this year. Participating dance groups from all over Yorkshire showcased a variety of dance styles. Groups applied, were shortlisted and came together to enjoy a variety of workshops and perform.

RJC Dance Youth Provision members Shahck Out Youth Dance - are young people aged 13 - 19 years, and performed ‘Mix and Blend’, a piece I choreographed; fusing a rare and unique combination of Afrobeat and Contemporary dance. Mixing the flow of Contemporary with the character and personality of Afrobeats is what makes the stand out piece.

How have you been involved, as choreographer?

For me, my take on choreography is to be a creator of dance art. It’s similar in a way to being a painter – who has an idea or a message to deliver. I deliver my work in the form of movement.

I’ve choreographed dances for FRESH since 2017, and each time I have chosen totally different themes. My first piece incorporated a horror theme which was delivered by young people who were much younger than the other groups there. Most recently our all male group, Boyz Noize (age 10 – 18 years), performed a Michael Jackson piece, which was very well received by a packed audience at The Cast Theatre in Doncaster. In 2020 we were looking forward to bringing Carnival to FRESH for the very first time, however lockdown unfortunately got in the way of that. Last year I was invited by FRESH to choreograph the finale of their virtual event, with Jemma Mae Broomhead which was a fantastic experience. Even better, I got to do it in person this year and feel the energy. Seeing all the groups embrace Carnival was a brilliant cultural exchange, and magical both on stage and in the audience. It was wonderfully positive after two years away due to the pandemic.

How is Shahck Out Youth Dance feeling about U Dance?

They’re working really hard rehearsing the piece. They’ve been part of this collaborative approach from the start. Even choosing the combination with Afrobeats was due to them – it’s such a popular genre right now, not just among Shahck Out Youth Dance but their friends and peers too. They’re constantly watching videos online and bringing new ideas to rehearsals – I can’t keep up, I welcome their input!

As a result, the piece has evolved since the FRESH regional dance event – we’re stepping up our game!

What are Shahck Out Youth Dance going to bring to the U Dance National Festival?

RJC Dance Youth Provision members have been selected to represent Yorkshire at U Dance on several occasions and once again they’ll be bringing everything they’ve got. We’ll be performing alongside some amazing dance groups from across the UK, many of whom are students in training, studying dance at college. We’re a youth group, rehearsing for an hour and a half once a week on a Wednesday.

“However, we’re bringing a different flavour, something special. We’re going to be tight, and bring the fire that we are known for.”

How can we watch the performance?

The U Dance National Festival takes place in Birmingham, and the public can buy tickets via the MAC Birmingham website.

After the live event, we’re hoping that U Dance will share recordings of all the performances, and you can be sure we’ll share those here on the RJC Dance website as soon as they’re available.

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Follow our journey through dance, movement and exercise

Keep up to date with RJC Dance's latest events, news and exclusive content