Padiham Green School dance troupe that wowed Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson competes in Lancashire County Schools' Dance Festival

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A dance troupe from a Padiham school, who have performed for royalty, are bursting with pride after competing in the Lancashire County Schools’ Dance Festival.

The dancers from Padiham Green were pipped at the post for first place in the regional competition after competing with 15 other schools from across the county who were whittled down from 600.

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Performing a choreographed set put together by their coach, Jolie Forrest, who is only 16, the dancers brought the house down at the competition held at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. They earned their place in the regional finals after coming first out of 13 schools in the Burnley Schools’ Festival in March. In December the dancers got the opportunity to dance for the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson when she visited their school as part of a day long tour in Burnley and Padiham.

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The dance team from Padiham Green Primary School with their coach Jolie ForrestThe dance team from Padiham Green Primary School with their coach Jolie Forrest
The dance team from Padiham Green Primary School with their coach Jolie Forrest

The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Breaking Boundaries’ in recognition that the Paris 2024 Olympics will see dance included for the first time ever. Former pupil Jolie, who is currently sitting her GCSE exams at Shuttleworth College, choregraphed the entire set and also mixed her own music and designed the different backdrops for the winning performance. The team, who a prize for having the best outfits designed by Jolie’s mum, Mrs Jodie Forrest, have been rehearsing since October and Jolie embraced the brief wholeheartedly, mixing her own music and using the set to show different genres of dance styles and music that will be showcased in the Olympics.

Jolie said: “I am so proud of them all, they had such a positive attitude even though we had a lot of hard work to do.”

A student at BASICS theatre school Jolie has been volunteering for five years and says she loves seeing the younger children grow in confidence and not be afraid to try something new. PE teacher Joe O’Brien said: “For some of these children it was their first time dancing and they were absolutely amazing. We also had a couple of boys in the troupe which is a great example for their peers to encourage other boys to join in.”

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