Thousands of dance students set for online competition
AN online dance competition run by an Ipswich school, which is designed to give hardworking students a chance to showcase their talent that would have been otherwise been lost, has attracted more than 1000 dancers from across the state.
Students will work as a team to film videos of the performances they would usually compete with at eisteddfods and other competitions for the Phoenix Online High Schools Dance Challenge.
It is being organised by Ipswich State High School and 23 schools have registered so far, with interest from 52 others, including a school in Canada.
Registrations are still open and anywhere between 1000 and 3000 students are expected to take part at this stage.
The school's dance co-ordinator Tara Yarrow said COVID-19 had forced the cancellation of almost all dance competitions this year.
"The students have worked really hard for the first part of this year and even the end of last year to prepare their routines as a team," she said.
"The senior students, especially, are missing out on so many of their 'last' events and we wanted to make sure they had something special to focus on with their teams this year.
"It's really hard to say how many kids in total will be involved.
"Schools have anywhere between 10 and 120 students in their dance teams."
Mrs Yarrow said the school received sponsorship from the Brisbane Multicultural Arts Council and cash prizes are on the line.
"The competition was started with the intention of local schools being involved; about six in total," she said.
"We have schools from Ipswich, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Woodlawn (rural NSW), Gympie, Logan, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and more (have already signed up)."
Matt Douglass is one of four experienced judges who will cast their eyes over the entries.
The Ipswich born and bred dancer moved to Sydney in 2013 and usually performs in musicals before coronavirus forced shows to shut down.
Between contracts, he teaches at dance schools teaching tap, jazz and musical theatre and knows better than most how important competitions are to keep students focused.
"Every year they come to the studio knowing that they're going to be working as a team to prepare for competitions and end of year performances and that's really the main focus of the year," he said.
"It's not only to improve but to have routines ready for competition and performance.
"I think people can lose their drive without having that goal so I think having this online competition … it still gives the chance for the kids to have a common goal.
"For adults (lockdown) hasn't been too bad but for kids it's been bloody hard."
Schools will submit entries before August 26 and performances and results will be streamed two days later.