Cromer and north Norfolk dance festival celebrates its silver jubilee event

Dancing at the Auden Theatre in Holt as part of the Cromer and North Norfolk Festival of Music, Danc

Dancing at the Auden Theatre in Holt as part of the Cromer and North Norfolk Festival of Music, Dance and Speech. Pictured is Sydney Ames performing in the Song and Dance solo.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Performers tapped, pirouetted, leapt and sang their way across the stage of a north Norfolk theatre during a three-day festival which could see some of them in the London finals of a national contest.

The annual Cromer and North Norfolk Festival of Music Dance and Speech, held at Gresham's School's Auden Theatre, attracted 300 entrants from Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire and into Cambridgeshire.

Entrants ranged in age from under six to a trio of Egyptian belly dancers all over 60.

This year's event was the festival's 25th anniversary and it was also, as happens every other year, a heat for the All-England competition which meant those with the highest scores in certain categories will go forward to the next stage of the national contest.

For the first time in its history, the festival welcomed a male adjudicator, national judge Geoff David Lucas.

Patricia Durrant has been in charge of the festival for all but the first of its 25 years.

'It's thriving,' she said. 'Little six-year-olds get on that stage and perform, and they love it - it boosts their confidence.'

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Mrs Durrant was asked to help with the first festival, held in Cromer Parish Hall, by Anne Nightingale.

'The next year Anne said she was getting married and moving to New Zealand - and would I like to carry it on!' said Mrs Durrant, who has been festival chairman and organiser ever since.

The popular event later moved to Sheringham High School but outgrew that venue too and has been at the Auden Theatre for about 17 years.

Annabelle Culley, 27, from Sheringham, has been taking part since she was five. 'It gives you a chance to perform. As a dancer, you normally just do exams. You also get verbal and written feedback which is very useful' said Ms Culley, who was commended for her modern solo interpretation of Hozier's Take Me To Church.

Nona Gray, 70, from Cromer, was one of the Barbara Egyptian Dancers trio, together with Julia Harvey, and choreographer Barbara Emery.

'I love the rhythms and the costumes and it helps keep me fit,' she said.

To celebrate the festival's silver jubilee, North Norfolk District Council arts service gave £100 to the best dance group, which was won by the June Glennie School of Dance, based in Beccles and Lowestoft.

Bursaries of £50 each were presented to Gabriella Hewitt (junior) and Felicity Martin (senior).

Charlotte Cooper and Alice Payne won the best duet/trio/quartet award and Ashten Rose Burgess took the musicality prize.