Victoria Lagan dancers step out of lockdown
An award-winning Coleraine dance school will step boldly out of lockdown this Friday.
Young dancers from Victoria Lagan Dance and Drama are set to compete in the annual Ulster Dance Championships - via Zoom.
They will perform their choreographed routines for the online competition - under a series of strict Covid-19 precautions - in the grounds of the Riverside Theatre.
For Victoria and her girls it’s a first but big step back to normality and follows weeks of rehearsals and meticulous planning.
Victoria explained: “We had been set to compete at the Ulster Dance Championships in April at Queen’s University but obviously the event was cancelled. They decided they would do a Zoom competition instead and we thought it would be great to enter some of our teams in a way to keep spirits high, keep training, keep motivated and most importantly - have some fun.
“We have been doing weekly Zoom rehearsals every Tuesday with the mini, junior and intermediate competition teams, which has been amazing. I have been brought to tears on many occasions by seeing their beautiful, smiling faces that I miss so much.
“As the restrictions started to relax - where you could meet six people outdoors - some of the dancers have started to meet up outside for their Tuesday Zoom classes, which has been really special for them. I still haven’t seen any of them in person yet but am very excited to.”
Victoria revealed that a productive collaboration with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and the Riverside Theatre was key to making the event happen.
“I spoke to a member of the Council during a weekly FaceTime meeting I have with them regarding re-opening the studio and discussed the idea of us being able to do our Zoom competition together outdoors and they went through some of the legalities around it,” she said.
“Once I realised this could be an option I contacted Roseanne Sturgeon, Manager of the Riverside Theatre, who was over the moon with the idea. She then had Megan Sheeran, who is the Technical Coordinator at the Riverside, to contact me to go through possibilities.
“Megan has been such a huge help with this and has really gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping me do all the risk assessments so we could put it forward to be approved by Ulster University, Coleraine.
“Thank goodness the Uni said yes! So we will be meeting on Friday outside at the back of Riverside - weather permitting - to compete in the Ulster Dance Championships via Zoom.”
Dancers and parents will have to adhere to a number of strict regulations to make sure the event passes off safely.
Each dancer must use personal hand santisers, bring their own labelled water bottle, practice social distancing and have no physical contact at any time with other competitors or equipment.
There will be security on site to check names of the children participating and only one parent per child will be allowed to spectate.
First aid and fire marsahals will also be present and there will also be a special isolation room in the theatre should anyone develop symptoms.
Markings on the grass outside the theatre will assist social distancing and no toilets will be in operation.
Victoria added that anyone ignoring the safety measures will be asked to leave the site immediately.
“It’s a lot of rules and regulations but we are eager to follow them and make this work so that we can give these kids a great day,” she added.
“Our dancers are known for being well disciplined and I have the utmost faith that they will follow all regulations. Dancing means the world to these girls and I know how grateful they are to everyone at Riverside for allowing them to perform.
“It’s going to be an amazing day! I know I will be bawling my eyes out start to finish watching them dance.
“I am so proud of each and every one of them for putting 100% effort into their craft especially during these difficult times.”
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper whenever you are able to do so.
Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper when you can safely.
You can also enjoy unlimited access to the best news from across Northern Ireland and the UK by subscribing to newsletter.co.uk
With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.