TEEN dancers set pulses racing as they stepped up with a performance of classic and contemporary choreography.

Dance students from Haughton Academy, part of The Education Village Academy Trust, Darlington, welcomed hundreds of performers as they hosted the annual PULSE Tees Valley Sub Regional Platform Secondary Plus Performance.

Nine teams from Darlington and Teesside took part in the dance collaboration, part of a national partnership with U.Dance and Dance City, which supports and encourages dance performance opportunities for young people across the country.

Organiser Debbie Harbin, of The D Project, Darlington, said: “PULSE is a collaborative event for secondary schools and community groups across the region.

“It gives young dancers the opportunity to take part in dance workshops, to perform in front of a live audience, be inspired by other dance groups and to find out more about pathways into dance within their local area.

“This is the first time we have hosted the event at a Darlington venue and the facilities here at the Education Village are superb. They have a fantastic performance hall, purpose-built dance studios, excellent changing facilities and overall the academy has been extremely supportive of the entire event.”

Workshops in contemporary and commercial dance were led by Chloe Shutt, of The D Project, and internationally acclaimed Balletboyz dance artist Blaine Richardson.

Dancers were then invited to perform for fun, or opt to take part in a competition element, with the first two placed groups chosen to take part in the PULSE regional finals at The Gala Theatre, Durham.

Finalists of the regional events will then be offered the opportunity to perform at the U.Dance national final in London.

Darlington sports leader Aly Raw, who works with schools across Darlington to organise sporting events and festivals, said: “Our annual dance festival in Darlington proved so popular over the past 14 years that we have now split it into individual primary and secondary events.

“The secondary event evolved into the PULSE performance and it really engages pupils who may not feel as empowered to take part in more mainstream sports.

“The non-competitive element and the creative aspects and skills, including strength, body conditioning, control, choreography and costume, really appeal which makes it an all encompassing, fun activity.”

Haughton Academy dancer Maddie Morse, 13, of Darlington, added: “I started dancing at the beginning of term and this is the first time I have performed in front of an audience.

“The school has an after-school dance class every week and it is really good to be dancing with all my friends and have the opportunity to meet other dancers from lots of other schools.”