Dancers’ top marks make festival history

Sudbury Festival of Performing Arts starts today with the Dance section.                                 FL; Alice Dalby and Sophia Walker. ANL-150214-181740009
Sudbury Festival of Performing Arts starts today with the Dance section. FL; Alice Dalby and Sophia Walker. ANL-150214-181740009
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Two pupils from Ormiston Sudbury Academy have been praised after scoring the highest mark in the history of a performing arts festival.

Gayle Johnson, who judged the dance performances of this year’s Sudbury Festival of Performing Arts, awarded Ormiston dancers Joseph Hogger and Leah Wallings a score of 92 for their duet – the highest mark ever awarded in the dance section.

As well as the duo’s success, the group performance from Ormiston students aged 13 to 18 was awarded second place.

Festival chairman Jan Osborne praised the high standard of this year’s competitors.

“I always enjoy the performances and find it very encouraging to see so many young people involved in performing arts,” she said.

“A big thankyou must also go to our wonderful team of volunteers, without whom the festival would not take place.

“It was wonderful to see so many performers from Ormiston Sudbury Academy and to have so many people in the audience.”

The festival, which is in its 93rd year, invites performers from as young as four to take to the stage in a variety of different classes, including ballet, tap and modern dance.

Ormiston Sudbury Academy’s dance teacher, Natasha Barnes-Smith, who has worked at the school for the last four years, entered around 70 students into several classes, including two group performances, duets, quartets and solos.

Miss Barnes-Smith said Leah and Joe, who are both Year 12 students, demonstrated a high level of maturity in their lyrical and jazz fusion duet.

She said: “Their maturity and level of discipline is an absolute credit to them.”

The 16-year-olds, who are both looking forward to careers in dance, started at Ormiston in September after dancing with Dance East’s Centre for Advanced Training in Ipswich.

As well as putting in hours of work on their own performance, Leah and Joe helped to choreograph a dance for younger students.

“The festival was a fantastic event to do,” said Miss Barnes-Smith. “It showed what we can do as a school.”