Panto's budding ballerinas
PUBLISHED: 16:00 23 September 2011
WITH ribbons tied and hair fastened, Weston's own dance school will step into the spotlight in The Playhouse's Christmas pantomime alongside a popular TV actor.
Among the famous faces and flashing lights of this year’s show will be a group of young girls whose pliés are pointed to perfection.
The talented youngsters belong to Tina Counsell’s School of Dance, who will be treading the boards with John Challis, known for his role as Boycie in Only Fools and Horses.
John will play the villain in the classic show Aladdin when curtains go up on December 13, and alongside him, Tina’s dance pupils will put forward their moves after a lot of hard work and dedication.
One of the devoted dancers who will join the stage is Libby Bamsey, aged 10, of Hutton, who will be stepping in front of the bright lights of The Playhouse for the third time.
Libby said: “We have quite a few rehearsals for the panto and it is hard work but it’s worth it because I really enjoy it.”
The dancers not only have to look pretty and keep poised but they also have a tough schedule to take on. The dancers are taught the choreography one week before the show starts, and the girls have to memorise every step in time for their big performance.
Libby said: “I found it was a lot of work in my first pantomime but I’m used to it now. And I like meeting all of the stars and trying on the costumes.”
The dance school has a licence which allows the dancers to take time off school, and when the actual show is running, they take it in turns to perform.
Tina said: “It’s quite intensive and the children have to be prepared to put in the work at rehearsals, and we need commitment from parents. But they all really enjoy it.” Tina started her dance school in 1985 and moved to the studio in Baker Street in 1999, taking dancers as young as three under her wing.
She said: “It’s wonderful when I take them on as babies and get to watch them grow.”
Lauren Baker, aged 11, of Ashley Road in Weston, is another of the dancers who will take to The Playhouse stage in December. She said: “When I was younger I went to watch my sister dance in a panto, now it’s nice because she can come and watch me.”
Tina has also danced since she was three and taken the stage for the annual pantos at The Playhouse.
She said: “My mum also did pantomimes, my dad worked with the lights at The Playhouse and my grandmother worked in front of house, so it was definitely a family experience. And I still visit my dance teacher, who is 103.”
Becky Stark, aged 18, of the Bournville estate, joined the dance school when she was six years old and is now training with Tina as a teaching assistant.
She said: “I like to focus on tap as it was my favourite type of dance growing up here at the studio. It’s a little weird learning here for so many years and now teaching, but it’s what I have always wanted to do.”