College in Alford dances its way to glory

Alford's John Spendluffe Technology College has reached the Northern Final of Rock Challenge for the first time ever. ANL-190106-071814001
Alford's John Spendluffe Technology College has reached the Northern Final of Rock Challenge for the first time ever. ANL-190106-071814001

Teamwork, talent and a whole lot of dedication – the effort of pupils and staff at Alford’s John Spendluffe Technology College has seen them dance their way to glory.

Ably supported by professional dance coach Sophie Watkinson and financially helped by the community fund The Cultural Lab, which is managed by the Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture, the college has reached the Northern Final of Rock Challenge for the first time ever.

It is wonderful to see their confidence build as they take ownership and become proud of their work

Do-dance founder Sophie Watkinson

The Cultural Lab, a project funded by Lincs Wind Farm Ltd and The Mighty Creatives,allows Magna Vitae to support schools to partake in a whole range of cultural activities, along and around the east coast. This also includes work with youth centres.

With a string of runners-up places under their belt in previous years, this year the John Spendluffe performance in the regional northern heat at Grimsby Auditorium struck gold – scooping a string of 12 awards, before being announced the overall winner.

Now it is all systems go as the team tweaks their performance, ‘The Dead are Alive’ in preparation for the finals, also at the Grimsby venue, on June 28.

Delighted Lizzie Arrowsmith, the Head of Department for Expressive Arts, said: “It is fantastic, our students simply don’t believe in themselves as much as we do – they don’t realise how good they are, but this is proof that they should know. It is so nice to be able to celebrate their success.”

Once the plan was hatched to involve 80 students in the performance, which is based on the Mexican festival ‘Dfa de Muertos’, there was help from all corners of the college, including the art department where the backdrops were created.

Meanwhile, thanks to the Cultural Lab funding, award-winning do-dance founder Sophie Watkinson was engaged as choreographer.

“Lizzie had an idea of how she wanted to direct the piece. I then got to know the students and sought out their strengths to create the whole production.

“It is wonderful to see their confidence build as they take ownership and become proud of their work,” said Sophie.

For the students themselves, the experience has been wonderful, and they are now looking forward to the final – and that involves those working hard behind the scenes as well as the performers.

Ava Marston, 12, said: “I was doing the make-up and loved it. I’m not a dancer, but it was great to be part of the whole production.”

Friend Paige Goodwin, 13, added: “I was dancing as a light-up skeleton and it was brilliant.

“The performance has given me much more confidence and we all learned to trust one another.”

David Willoughby, cultural officer at Magna Vitae – the premier provider of leisure, fitness and cultural activities across East Lindsey – was delighted to provide the Cultural Lab funding to the College.

“What a great result and it is wonderful to see how the students have delivered this performance, this is exactly what the Cultural Lab is all about, and we wish them well in the final,” said David.