The joy of The Willow Tree each year is seeing
the progression made by the infants struggling with co-ordination and in awe
of the lights and audience, to willowy and enviably fit teenagers tackling
All the children are challenged and no one is excluded, a notable lesson
to us all.
Up The Narrow Staircase started with the younger groups singing
and demonstrating all styles of dance and progressed to the seniors where
some exceptional talent was evident. A well received addition was a
pas de deux performed by Luke Hurtle, now training at The Rambert School of
Ballet and Contemporary Dance and Ella Brown, now at The Royal Academy of
Dancing. As ever, much of the choreography was exciting enough to have
the onlooker on the edge of the seat, feeling cheated at not being able to
undertake such feats of physical excellence.
The singing this year seemed to stand out. As well as talented
soloists, large groups of children and teenagers executed songs in perfect
harmony and a wide range of styles, enhanced of course by the contributions
The confidence needed by some of the younger
participants who delivered solos with competence and obvious pleasure is a
credit to teachers at the centre.
Having attended this event for several years now,
I can honestly say that I thought this the best so far. It brought
home the knowledge that we constantly under-estimate the abilities of our
children and how lucky we are having such an outstanding facility on the
The quality of achievement is particularly notable in the light of the
relocation problems the centre experienced this year and the disruption that
ensued for staff and students. They are clearly comfortable in their
new home at Tiverton High School and a valuable contributor to the
specialist art status of the school.
It comes as no surprise to discover that five of this year's graduates
have secured places at London dance schools, but it is disappointing to
think that two may not be able to take up this opportunity as
funding is a
Once again, a big thanks to Irene Holland and her staff for
providing such an uplifting experience.
By Ali Lucas