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Warrington & Vale Royal College celebrates exceptional young talents in first ever WVR Dance Academy

Warrington & Vale Royal College launched its first ever after-school dance academy last month, welcoming pupils from schools across Warrington, Wigan, Runcorn and beyond to experience four weeks of masterclasses led by the college’s international award-winning dance tutor, Shannen Stocks.

The WVR Dance Academy was designed by the college’s well-established performing arts department as an opportunity to give back to the local community, allowing Year 10 and 11 pupils to experience an extensive taster of the college’s renowned contemporary & commercial dance courses in a series of free exclusive workshops.

Attendees were welcomed to the college’s newly launched Advanced Creative & Digital Skills (ACDS) Academy, which officially opened as a Centre of Technical Excellence in March 2023 thanks to a £2 million investment from the Department for Education. This impressive industry-standard facility includes a fully-refurbished 160-seat theatre, dance studio, box office and professional technical booth for lighting and sound.

Over the course of a month, the WVR Dance Academy’s sessions covered a range of contemporary and jazz techniques, culminating in an exciting final performance of the ‘Hush’ dance routine, inspired by infamous choreographer Christopher Bruce. Families and friends were invited to see the young dancers’ incredible efforts, as well as celebrate their achievements, at a fabulous awards presentation following the final session. On this evening, each participant received a certificate, personalised merchandise and printed headshot for their professional portfolio.

Amongst the talented attendees at the Academy was Sharna Butterworth, a pupil at The Westleigh School, who performs with dance schools around the North West regularly. Reflecting on her experience with the college, she said:

“What I’ve enjoyed most about the WVR Dance Academy is the new friends I have made and performing great choreography. Shannen is a really good tutor and has helped me to feel much more confident.”

Shannen Stocks, a former student of the college who returned as a tutor to share her expertise with the next generation of performers, led the training and rehearsals. Having been awarded the International Dance Teachers’ Association Medallist of the Year for 2023, the attendees were keen to learn from Shannen’s extensive experience as an industry professional. Blown away by the talent on display throughout the Academy, she said:

“The young people I have worked with over the past month have continually impressed me. The routine we learned was a challenge that every attendee rose to and I am so proud of how far they have come in such a short time. I hope to welcome them to the college’s Performing Arts community officially in September 2024 as students!”

The WVR Dance Academy may be over, but there are plenty of opportunities remaining for those interested in a future in dance to explore what’s on offer at the college. Applicants to Warrington & Vale Royal College can look forward to three exclusive opportunities to try their chosen course at upcoming College Experience Evenings and New Student Welcome Day in 2024.

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