WWII veterans and schoolchildren in Remembrance Day mass dance spectacular

Published: Monday 6th November 2017 by Tom Drinkall

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The Way We Were

When: Saturday 11 November 2017

Performance times: 11:05, 12:00, 14:00 & 15:00 in Paragon Interchange, Hull.

Cost: FREE.

A large-scale mass movement dance spectacle featuring a cast of up to 150 volunteer performers including 30 World War Two veterans and 40 primary school children will be marking Remembrance Day at Paragon Interchange, Hull, on Saturday 11 November.

The veterans, including a 92-year-old dancer and former Land Girl, are members of Armstrong Social Club’s ballroom and sequence dance group. They will be performing alongside professionals from the Tenfoot Dance Company, lindy hop outfit Kingston Swing and a five-piece jazz band in The Way We Were production.

The Way We Were tells the moving story of a young couple who fall in love and are separated by the outbreak of war. The narrative is told through a range of dance styles including ballroom, jive, lindy hop and contemporary.

One of the leading dancers is 92-year-old Iris Marie Newbold, from Hull, who was a Land Girl during World War Two. She said: “I’ve lived through this; I danced and fought in the fields. It is a part of me really. The Way We Were reawakens memories that were stored in your mind and in your heart; it brings it back in a very real way.”

Mrs Newbold took up tap dancing at the mature age of 70 and has danced more than 20 different styles including ballroom, sequence, folk and even traditional Greek dancing.

She said: “It was just wonderful. I thought I’d never get to be performing and yet I am, it’s thanks to Ten Foot Dance for getting me involved. It makes me feel like me, not just an old lady, I’m still me.

“I’m just grateful. Every day is a bonus when you get to 90, to wake up every morning and still be here, to still be dancing. There are so many challenges in your 90s. Everything hurts a little. I start off with the pain but when I start dancing it goes, it feels wonderful. I think the way forward is to keep moving.”

Following the success of last year’s performance which featured Jon Beney, soon to be starring in Maxine Peake’s The Last Testament of Lillian Bilocca,The Way We Were is being performed a second time but with the addition of a 40-strong group of young first-time actors from Endsleigh Primary School. The children have also been involved in making more than 1,000 poppies for the enormous set, which includes a huge mural that will remain installed in the station throughout November.

Freddie Garland, co-artistic director of Ten Foot Dance Company, said: “I wanted a piece that everyone could connect and relate to in one way or another, a movement, a glance, a touch, a breath, a piece that was emotionally provocative. It had to ‘real’. This piece was created to celebrate and commemorate those who we owe thanks. I was overwhelmed by the huge response from both the cast and audience members last year. People have been asking when it’s going to return. We had an astonishing 2,000 people come to see the performances throughout the day last time.”

Published: Monday 6th November 2017 by Tom Drinkall

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