Sam taps his way into acclaimed company

DANCER Sam Hughes is a step closer to his West End goal after landing a place on an Associate Programme with a prestigious tap dancing company Tap Attack.

The 14-year-old started dancing at two-and-a-half at Dansworks Dance Academy of Performing Arts. When Dansworks opened, initially in Waterfoot, Sam, from Whitewell Bottom, was one of the first people to join.

His mum Helen said: “His friend was going to a dance class and Sam asked if he could go along with her and he was hooked. From the age of five to seven he would choreograph and write out dance routines, which he would then perform.”

He was initially just doing Tap and Ballet and then decided to join a different dance school and tried cheerleading before at nine he returned to Dansworks, and the studios in Bacup have now become his second home.

Sam, a student at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, now has dance lessons in Tap, Ballet, Musical Theatre, Contemporary Dance Modern Jazz and Drama and loves taking part in the shows and competitions. He first auditioned two years ago for Tap Attack, which is based in Halifax, but  he didn’t get through.

Sam said: “Tap has always been the style I like best. At the audition this time I was quite nervous when I went into the room, but as soon as the teacher started talking I thought, ‘I could do this’. I liked the atmosphere and as I settled into the audition I could tell that my ability was on a higher level that the other students in my age group.”

Sam, who has previously performed in Halifax in the professional pantomime Aladdin, is looking forward to joining Tap Attack at a two-day Workshop in Swindon and hopes to get picked for the team that will compete in the Tap Dancing World Championships.

He added: “I will be learning American style Street Tap which is less traditional and is very rhythmical. I would love to perform in bigger theatres and with large companies. Gemma Nuttall has recently been my tap dancing teacher at Dansworks. She has been amazing, she has inspired me she understands what I want to do and she has helped me to get where I have today.”

Danworks Principal Karen Roe said: “We are so proud of Sam, he has always had a passion for dance but the last two years he has worked so hard and has been so determined to get to the level he needed to be at. His improvement in all his dance styles this year has been phenomenal – attaining 96 per cent in his most recent Dance Exam – and he thoroughly deserves his place on the Tap Attack Associate Programme.”

Photos Liz Henson Photography

Words Catherine Smyth Media

Dance Academy’s triple success

THREE teenage dancers who have honed their skills at Dansworks Dance Academy of Performing Arts in Bacup are now going on to prestigious dance schools.

Emily Biel is the latest dancer to be selected from more than 100 hopefuls from all over the world for a place at the prestigious Northern Ballet School in Manchester. The 16-year-old from Rawtenstall will be joining Jaydan Hanson-Beech, 15, from Bacup, who has also secured a place at the same school from September. Also heading to Manchester – to Shockout Arts Academy is Jasmine Somerwill, 15, from Bacup.

Principal of Dansworks Karen Roe said: “To have three dancers achieve this level of success at the same time is testimony to the hard work they have put in over the many years they have been with Dansworks. We are thrilled about their achievements and we are all looking forward to seeing them achieve their goals and land the places on the stage they all aspire to.”

Emily first took up dancing aged six at an afterschool club run by Karen. She said: “Karen suggested that I come along to Dansworks and I have been attending ever since. I love dancing and I love how everyone here has helped me to improve. It is like a big family and everyone is so supportive.

“Dancing makes me happy and I when I am watching others it is aesthetically pleasing; I hope I am aesthetically pleasing when I am dancing too.”

Like Jaydan, Emily is hoping to get a DADA – a Dance And Drama Award that will help her to pay for her tuition. Her dream is a place on the stage and hopefully in the West End, but dancers from Northern Ballet are also scouted by dance companies and shows from all over the world. Later in her career, Emily hopes to become a choreographer.

Jaydan said: “At the audition the principal asked what my ultimate goal was and I said that I didn’t have one, I just knew that I want to be a dancer. When I opened the letter and found out I had a place, I was so overwhelmed and emotional. I was just over the moon. My dad was at home and he gave me a big hug, when my mum found out she was also delighted.

 “When I dance I take myself away from the world and am able to find head space and just forget everything else. When I dance I am in a good place.”

Jasmine, who hopes to secure a scholarship, has been dancing since she was three and for the last two years has been having at Dansworks. She said: “When I started at Dansworks I had done a lot of street dance and disco but was not good at ballet or jazz.

“Karen has really worked me hard for two years to get me to a good enough standard to be able to take Grade 5 ballet, which I passed with distinction, and to be successful in my audition for ShockOut Arts. I realise how important it is to have good technique training.

“My course will begin in September and I will be doing different dance styles, tap, ballet, jazz, street and contemporary. My plan is to dance around the world and I would love to perform on cruise ships because it would be really fun and I am not seasick.”

To find out more about Dansworks visit www.dansworks.co.uk or call 01706 559671.

by Catherine Smyth Media