Press Report


Tiverton Gazette


Tuesday July 22, 2008

Amazing grace of dancers on
Flight of Fancy

A SOARING success was the only way to describe Flight of Fancy, the latest end-of-year production by the Willow Tree Centre of Dance & Performing Arts.
   The show, which ran at the New Hall in Tiverton last week, was a chance for the cast to step onto the stage and into the limelight.
   Company principal Irene Holland said:  "We were packed out all week, with not one seat left. The show featured solo singing, numbers from musical theatre, plus tap, ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance."
   Irene explained that the production featured a wide range of age groups from four-year-old up to adults.
   She said:  "Everyone was very professional backstage.  The little ones were really good and they were really excited and proud of themselves.  I always say if you treat them like little professionals and give respect, that is what they will give you back."
   The costumes also caught the eye, many having been made by tutor Denise James and the rest plundered from Willow Tree's extensive wardrobe.

One of the many highlights of the show was the return of former students Ella Brown and Luke Hurtle.
   After leaving Tiverton, Luke went on to study at the prestigious Rambert School in London.  This may be the last time Luke dances in England for some time as he is now planning to move to Japan.
   A number of performers who have just left Willow Tree will have enrolled on dance and performing arts courses at top training institutions such as Bournemouth University and the Stella Mann College.
   Irene explained:  "The boys seem to get snapped up very quickly because there are still less boys in the dance world, but it is beginning to balance itself out, as more see it as something they can do."
   Willow Tree Theatre Company will be returning to the New Hall in December for its Christmas production - 'HOOD'.
    The show will be a new musical version of Robin Hood, and the cast will comprise a similar mixture of old and young.

by Richard Wevill



Audience Reviews


Submitted by Amanda Knott


July 2008

WILLOW TREE Centre of Dance & Performing Arts

In Tiverton's New Hall, military precision could not have bettered the slickness which characterised recent performances celebrating the end of the school year for the Willow Tree Centre of Dance and Performing Arts.
As a feat of sheer organisation, before considering the artistic content, Irene Holland's annual showcase, is an extraordinary achievement.
   Over 200 children, young people and adults took part in a cornucopia of jazz dance, ballet, tap, modern dance, song and musical theatre.   Show stopper followed showstopper, each with a new set of vibrant costumes and a whacky sound track...sometimes recorded tracks were supplanted by live piano...I saw the excellent pianist, not very old herself, step down from the stage to play for the next number. Irene uses every possible resource.
   There were some magically dreamy moments offset by some wild and ferocious ones while the very young performers stole the early part of the evening as they Fairy Cakes and French Fancies the babes circled the stage, some desperately hanging on to their tutu's as the frills slipped floorwards.
   The opening number, Rhythm of Life, was a could not have been sung with more clarity, enthusiasm and charm. I thought the kids would burst with pride and joy as they sang.  The same can be said of the Hairspray musical theatre medley which began the second half with equal colour and gusto.
I loved the opening bars of a tap number in which waitresses armed with a notepad, tapped their toes while taking orders. I noted Martha Dinsdale's talent in the modern dance I Eat Cannibals and Megan Cooke's fine singing voice and charming personality in the Mary Poppins song, Feed the Birds.
Big Girls
, a boys' jazz number, had 5 young talented chaps knocking about in white suits, while Flo Mackay in a deep red tutu and mask impressed with a fiery solo of mixed dance styles unexpectedly called Doves.  A poem about a teacher - or was it an alien -  was spoken with excellent comic timing by Conner Van Bussel.  As an all round performer, he caught my eye throughout the evening.
   Thriller, the Michael Jackson classic, was indeed a thrilling choreographic and skilful tap display.  In Scare, the upper junior contemporary dancers wearing effective UV ribbons and laces writhed and wriggled creating a creepy and feline atmosphere; the senior musical theatre group seemed to be having so much fun and consequently gave a stunning performance with the song - Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now.
In an evening of delights, I should mention Mollie Shearman, Abi Browning, Lauren Bridgeman, Sarah Jepps and Lucy Flatters as being highly gifted students who contributed greatly to the evening's entertainment.  I could go on, but lack of newspaper space will prevail.  Suffice to say, that judging by this annual showcase, the Willow Tree Centre is successfully offering a wide range of training in the performing arts of which Tiverton has a right and a duty to be very very proud.