Rennie Dance Academy show marks 20th anniversary

More than 150 children took to the stage at the weekend for The Rennie Dance Academy summer show which also marked the school’s 20th anniversary.

There were three performances at Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, two on Saturday and one yesterday afternoon.


Dancers from The Rennie Dance Academy take a bow at the end of the school’s 20th anniversary show. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Afterwards as principal Kirsten Rennie thanked everybody involved for their help with the show she looked back over the years remembering there were just 30 pupils when she took over an ailing school in Uckfield.

She said: “It is special to reflect on where we have come from and what we can still achieve with the enthusiasm of the children and wonderful staff.”

The school now runs classes at Uckfield Community Technology College and in Newick.

Miss Kirsten said she was particularly pleased that one of her original pupils, Rebecca Hartley, is now back as a member of staff and doing her Royal Academy of Dance teacher training.

The first half of the show at the weekend was a mix of jazz, street dance, musical theatre, tap, modern and ballet.

After the interval there was a ballet entitled Portraits about artists, danced by William English and Tom Wasels, being inspired by everyday life in Paris and creating portraits that reflect their surroundings.

As part of the story thieves try to steal paintings from a gallery and one artist is tempted by the bright lights of America where he goes to seek fame and fortune.

When the curtain fell Miss Kirsten congratulated her dancers on their successes since the last show two years ago.

Charlie Levett, who performed this year in the first half of the show, has finished his first year at Elmhurst vocational school in Birmingham, which is affiliated to the Birmingham Royal Ballet. He was one of only nine boys to be offered a place.

Tom Wasels got to the finals of the Janet Cram Modern Dance Awards and was featured on the front cover of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing magazine.

Felicity Chadwick has successfully auditioned for the Central School of Ballet in London for the Saturday programme and now dances there every week.

Lily Wanless, Adelaide O’Conor, Lily Hope and William English successfully auditioned for the Young Dancers Foundation Pre-vocational Course, held for aspiring dancers on Sundays in Worthing.

Adelaide was also the winner of the Senior Modern Prize at Orpington Festival in October.

Alex White has successfully auditioned for the English Youth Ballet for performances in Crawley in October. Erin Munn will dance with the Southern Youth Ballet in Eastbourne in November.

Six dancers represented the school at the Janet Cram Modern Awards in May. They were Belle Banwell, Felicity Chadwick, Lily Wanless, Adelaide O’Conor, William English and Tom Wasels. Felicity made it through to the finals in London.

At the Royal Ballet School, past Rennie Dance Academy pupil Izzy Knights has graduated from Year 11 and been busy this weekend with performances at the Royal Opera House.

Miss Kirsten said Izzy was doing exceptionally well. She won through to the finals of the Young British Dancer of the Year competition earlier this year, one of only nine girls and seven boys, and she has been offered a place at the Royal Ballet Upper School in Covent Garden in September.

Awards were presented by Miss Kirsten and included:

  • Scholarships: Last year, William English and Tom Wasels; this year Felicity Chadwick.
  • Ballet: junior, Belle Banwell; senior, Chloe Miller.
  • Modern and Tap: Francesca Carter
  • Jazz: Lily Hope
  • Most improved dancer: Alex White.
  • Leavers: Sophia Skinner, Charlotte Stephens, Poppy Eacott, Katherine Rollo, Emma Gaughan, Lily Hope, Chloe Miller and Molly York.

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