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Students from Sunderland’s Priestman Sixth Form Academy set up own dance company, learning performance and business skills

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The young people from Barbara Priestman Sixth Form Academy in Meadowside, Sunderland, part of the Ascent Academies Trust, formed the company as part of their Enterprise and Duke of Edinburgh curriculum.

Each student has taken on an individual role within the company, as well as performing, and they are now on tour performing and leading workshops at other Ascent Trust schools across the North East.

Dance teacher Shelley Baxter said the tour consists of a range of dance styles including Bollywood, Latin, Contemporary and Jazz and musical theater solos which students choreographed themselves.

Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.

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She said the aim of the company is to give students the experience of being part of a business, taking on a job role in design, marketing or creative team and learning about finances including profit and loss and applying for funding.

“The students have made outstanding progress in terms of performance skills but also developed their understanding of running a business,” she said.

“We hope to build on our work so far and look forward to bigger things and further opportunities.”

The opening performance for the company was on May 4, and it is touring schools across the North East until July 22.

Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.

Natalie Preece, Head of Sixth form at the school, said: “The students have worked tirelessly to create an imaginative and creative piece of choreography reflecting their individual passion for dance and performance.

“They have shown team work and determination developing this unique dance company supporting an amazing team of staff.”

Students involved told how the experience had benefited them in all manner of wider ways.

Heather said: “It helped me with co-ordination as I struggle with movements of my arms and legs. I liked designing the costumes. ”

Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.

Sam said: “I just love everything and look forward to coming to school. I am part of marketing. ”

Rebecca said: “It’s a good opportunity to dance at school and perform. I like arranging tickets and emails. ”

Emily said: “It helped me develop my confidence because I’m usually shy.”

Katie said: “I’ve improved my health and fitness because that’s important for me and my target. I feel like a better person. ”

Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.
Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.
Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.
Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.
Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.
Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.
Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.
Opening dance tour performance at Barbara Priestman Academy.

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