A popular schools dance festival is receiving a spectacular sprinkling of fairy dust thanks to the magical powers of Disney On Ice.
The Gateshead Schools Dance Festival will take place in March 2018 at the region’s prestigious Sage Gateshead venue, where school children and young people from the borough will proudly showcase their skills in dance.
The annual display is organised by the Gateshead School Sport Partnership (GSSP) that aims to build an active and healthy future for all young people through the provision of high-quality physical education, school sport and physical activity.
This year’s festival has joined forces with the Disney On Ice Fit to Dance education programme. Inspired by the magic of Disney On Ice, Fit to Dance supports creative storytelling and physical education for children in the primary sector.
Steven Armstrong, Vice President Northern Europe, Feld Entertainment, producers of Disney On Ice, said:
“It’s a pleasure for us to be partnering with this amazing dance festival. As with Disney On Ice Fit to Dance, it’s encouraging children to get fit and active through dance and storytelling. The Fit to Dance programme reflects what happens in Disney On Iceshows, where writing teams create great stories and choreography teams translate them into fantastic dances on the ice. Fit to Dance enables young people to do exactly this with their school friends or even in their own homes, and there’s plenty of support and inspiration online. We’re also delighted to inspire a new outreach programme enabling schools to create their own Fit to Dance routines, alongside a competition to win tickets to Disney On Ice.”
More than 2,600 Gateshead children will take part in the dance festival during 105 performances across six shows spanning two days at Sage Gateshead on 20/21 March.
The theme for this year’s festival is the magic of movies and musicals, and will feature performances inspired from a wide range of popular and classic films, including Mamma Mia, Oliver, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Jungle Book, Shrek, Matilda, Annie, Wizard of Oz and Hairspray.
Contributing schools were invited to enter a competition to design the front cover of the dance festival programme, and this was won by 10 year old Yasmin Gardener from St Matthew’s Catholic Primary, an affiliate school of GSSP.
Yasmin’s multi-coloured design featured many of her favourite movies, including Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story, alongside a favourite movie treat – popcorn!
Yasmin and her family will receive a VIP family ticket to see Disney On Ice when it returns to the Metro Radio Arena in October 2018 as part of a UK-wide Autumn Tour.
“When I found out I had won the competition, I was incredibly happy because I love art and dancing and have worked so hard to get to this stage,” Yasmin said, “I still really can’t believe that I have won!”
Yasmin is also one of 18 pupils busy working up their dance routine to ‘I Believe’ by Yolanda Adams, from the film ‘Honey’ and the whole group is very excited about showcasing their performance at Gateshead Dance Festival.
Head Teacher Mrs Bernadette Pye, commented:
“A huge ‘well done’ to Yasmin on her success in winning the competition . She is a very talented artist and budding dancer and we are very proud of her achievements. 
“At St. Matthew’s Catholic Primary School, Prudhoe our staff and pupils have worked hard to choreograph a routine for this year’s dance festival and are very much looking forward to taking part in such a fun filled and enjoyable event! I personally can not wait to see our pupils showing off their talents on stage. We have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with the Gateshead School Sport Partnership (GSSP), which has allowed our pupils to enjoy many new opportunities in dance and sport education.
Councillor Gary Haley, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Gateshead Council said:
“It’s a delight to see so many schools willing to participate in this spectacular annual event that gives children the opportunity to use their imagination by choreographing their own dance routines, improve their health by keeping their heart rates up, boost their confidence and performance skills – and having such great fun while doing it!”
Alex Perkins from Gateshead School Sport Partnership added:
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Disney On Ice Fit to Dance educational programme this year.  This will enable us to reach out to schools in the borough with an inspirational cross-curricular initiative that will encourage children to embrace the joy of creativity and adventure throughout the rest of the academic year. We’ll also be launching some extra special competitions for children to win tickets to Disney On Ice when it arrives at the Metro Radio Arena in October, which is a great incentive for families in the area.”
For more information about Fit to Dance, go to: www.fit-to-dance.com