FRESH 2023: A ReflectionTue 30 May 2023
Part of: FRESH 2024
From 14th to 15th April, over 300 performers took to the stage to celebrate the exceptional talent of Yorkshire’s young dancers. Dance styles from Contemporary to Street, Jazz, Bharatanatyam and Soca were showcased across four stages; Digital, Matinee, Foyer and Evening.
The live event on Saturday saw groups of dancers attending workshops, taking part in tech rehearsals of their piece on stage, and learning a full-out, high energy finale routine. Workshops in styles such as Commercial Bollywood and Musical Theatre gave dancers the opportunity to try something new, and sessions led by the National Youth Dance Company offered inspiring progression routes for those interested in further opportunities in dance. Young people took over Leeds’ Quarry Hill, with activity taking place at Yorkshire Dance and Leeds City College, as well as performances at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre and Leeds Playhouse.
“I really enjoyed performing with my group and being part of the dance workshop Bollywood/Commercial as it was a style of dance I have not participated in before but would now like to do more of.” – FRESH 2023 Dancer
FRESH offers young dancers from across Yorkshire the chance to showcase their skills in a professional venue and meet their peers from other exceptional dance groups in the region.
“The finale was so much fun, and the energy was amazing. I liked how we were able to perform with other dance groups.” – FRESH 2023 Dancer
Three of the Group Leaders shared their experience from the day:
“Our students absolutely loved their day at FRESH. I am always very impressed with how it is run and think it is a fantastic opportunity for our students.”
“The students are still absolutely buzzing from the experience and thoroughly enjoyed the day!”
“We can really only offer praise and our thanks for allowing us to be part of the 2023 event. Our dancers really do enjoy FRESH and find the experience and what they learn very valuable. We’re really lucky to have such a platform in Yorkshire…The event had a great atmosphere this year. One of my favourite parts is the intimate performances in the foyer at the Playhouse. Things like this really bring everyone together as well as the further performances in the two theatre spaces.”
FRESH also offers a progression route to U.Dance: One Dance U.K’s National Festival. Each year, one or two groups are selected to represent Yorkshire at the National Festival, which takes place in a different city each year. This year, the event will be heading to Newcastle.
Ultimately, whether the young people at FRESH are hoping to pursue a career in dance or not, the benefits of dance underpin the importance of the event. The impact on physical health is clear, but the effect of dance on mental health is more important than ever. Dance helps to build young people’s confidence and offers them a way to process and express their feelings through movement. Being part of a dance group means young people learn to work as a team and are supported and encouraged by their peers. It builds strength, resilience and determination, setting young people up for success in whatever future path they choose.
Ione Barton ~ Youth and Community Dance Manager
Images: Brian Slater