Across Ilkley and beyond, young dancers are frantically tapping and twirling round their living rooms, practicing their steps and beating out rhythms on the kitchen floor. Preparations are underway at Ilkley’s Wright Theatre Academy (WTA) for the next in a long line of successful dance shows. This year: The Wizard of Oz.
At this early stage of rehearsal, routines are being finalised and characters developed. It’s a well- known story, of course, but the magic comes from how this classic tale is told, and the delight in seeing familiar characters brought to life on the stage. Different styles of dance are matched with an appropriate part of the story, enhancing and developing the plot. It’s an eclectic show, featuring dance genres as diverse as ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, and Bollywood.
WTA are also out to smash the misconception that dancing’s for girls. This year no fewer than 12 boys are taking part, including a boy in a lead role for the first time: Adam Williams will be playing the Wizard with much aplomb!
The cast of over 100 come from many local schools including, All Saints, Ashlands, Ben Rhydding, Ilkley Grammar, Addingham Primary, Burley Oaks, Menston Primary, St Marys, Ermysted, Skipton girls school, Eldwick Primary School, Moorfield, Gyhll Royd and Westville. Teachers beware, there may be some tapping and twirling across the playground!
WTA productions spare no effort on their costumes, with a whopping 470 different outfits being used across the show. This necessitates some pretty nippy changing between dances: the fastest backstage costume change this year is just forty seconds. The intricate choreography is by WTA’s mother/daughter team Lynne Wright and Tamsin Wood. As well as the thrill of the individual performances, it’s a great opportunity to develop teamwork, with a close-knit atmosphere among the students, which can lead to strong camaraderie and lasting friendships.
The Wizard of Oz is a perfect family outing. Even if you don’t know a cast member, it’s a great way to introduce children (and adults!) to their first dance spectacular. It’s also an opportunity for anyone considering dance lessons to see just what can be achieved. And, of course,aside from the dancing itself, there’s the heart-warming story of Dorothy and friends, a timeless classic that appeals to all ages.
So why not come along and relive childhood memories, be entranced by the dance, and support young local talent all in the same show. Tickets are now on sale at https://stagestubs.com/wta-dance-academy/the-wizard-of-oz
Written by Claire Emmott