I have never seen a live dance competition before, so was really excited to have the opportunity to review the Southampton Dance Competition, the biggest University dance competition in the South. I was not disappointed. The atmosphere was electric. At the start of the day, you could sense the mixture of nerves and excitement, especially as this was the first competition of the season for most of the dancers, including our Southampton squads. As the day went on, the atmosphere only improved. As different unis competed, the sense of support from their own University but also others was really nice to see. I also loved hearing the different University’s chants before and after each performance. It genuinely seemed that the dancers were really enjoying themselves, nerves and competitiveness aside of course.
I know very little about dance besides the musical theatre that I am often involved in. Competitive dance is, of course, very different so I was watching this knowing very little about the specific dance styles that competed. However, I still really enjoyed the day and enjoyed every dance. All of USD’s dances were a joy to watch, and each brought something different. The intermediate ballet piece, Frost, was graceful and captivating. I loved the costumes and really enjoyed watching it. USD’s Advanced ballet piece, Danse Macabre, was probably my favourite dance of the whole competition. It was beautiful, moving, graceful and it felt very professional to watch. It also won 1st in its category and won Southampton the Best Costume award.
For the USD intermediate tap entry, The Final Battle was very impressive. The footwork was fast, I liked the unique battle element of the choreography and it was fun to watch. This also won 1st in its category. The USD Advanced tap piece, Allegretto, was energetic, had fun costumes and I really enjoyed the use of cannon. Their team spirit was also great. Allegretto also won 1st in its category, and its choreographer Eleanor Lake won Best Choreography!
Solidarity, Strength, Support, intermediate contemporary, was inspiring, captivating and gave a great energy. I really enjoyed watching it even though I know nothing about the contemporary style. The advanced contemporary piece, Wake Up, was mesmerising. I really enjoyed the lifts and the costumes change that made up the story throughout (they gradually took off their black tops to reveal brightly coloured blouses underneath). Wake Up took home the 1st place prize in its category.
The USD Intermediate Jazz dance, 2000s Pop, was really lively and energetic. I, and much of the audience, really enjoyed the music choices too. It was really enjoyable to watch. USD won 1st in this category. For advanced jazz, Fuerza was really great and enjoyable to watch, even for someone who doesn’t know much about jazz. USD took home first place prize for this category.
The Southampton entry for the intermediate street category, Coming in Hot, was very enjoyable to watch. The moves were very impressive and it was very lively. USD won 3rd in this category. The advanced street, MANTRA, was amazing to watch. It was lively, energetic and the atmosphere in the room, especially around music changes, was electric. This dance won first in its category.
The wildcard section was particularly exciting. There was a wide variety of dance styles, from latin to lyrical and even a circus-themed entry from the Royal Veterinary College. There were also different sized groups, with some dances containing around ten people and others just two or three. Roehampton’s entry, Promiscuous was done entirely in heels which I found very impressive and Winchester’s dance, Love is Blind, was done mostly blindfolded and the story really moved me. The USD entry, Break the Beat, was really energetic and enjoyable to watch. It was a breakdance piece and was really impressive with cool tricks and a fun use of cannon. It ALSO won 1st place, bringing USD to a total of eight 1sts and one 3rd place during the home competition!
Rundown of Awards:
I have already mentioned the individual categories winners but here is how Southampton did overall!
Advanced Ballet – USD 1st
Intermediate Tap – USD 1st
Advanced Tap – USD 1st
Advanced Contemporary – USD 1st
Intermediate Jazz – USD 1st
Advanced Jazz – USD 1st
Intermediate Street – USD 3rd
Advanced Street – USD 1st
Wildcard – USD 1st
Best Costume – USD Advanced Ballet
Best Choreography – USD Advanced Tap, Eleanor Lake
Best Female – Eleanor Monk, USD
I also really loved the guest performances too. This involved two performances by the Parkewood School of Dance and one by the Community Dance Company. The first Parkewood performance, Glory, was amazing to watch, graceful and elegant and the talent of the girls was so clear. The second Parkewood performance, Dancin’ Fool was very lively and energetic and a really enjoyable jazz performance. The Community Dance Company’s dance, It’s Raining Grads was incredible. They were all so talented, I loved the costumes and there is such a great idea behind the company.
Overall, it was a really exciting event with a great sense of community spirit, nerves and most importantly, fun.