For the third year running, the Copper Box Arena welcomed schools from across the London boroughs, who competed against each other for the title of London Youth Games, part of the School Games, Dance Champion 2017 on Wednesday 8th March. The annual dance competition is part of the nationwide School Games and is delivered by London Youth Games in partnership with EMD (Exercise Move Dance) UK, the national governing body for group exercise.

London Youth Games, part of th School Games, is the largest youth sports festival in Europe. Over a nine month period, the annual competition gives opportunities for schools and community groups to enter into more than thirty different sports competitions, aimed at inspiring sporting passion and participation in children. The London Youth Games, part of the School Games, Dance Competition was made possible through funding from both Sport England and the Greater London Authority and, as always, this was an inspiring day of passion, talent and determination.

23 London boroughs were involved in the competition this year, bringing just over 600 young dancers to the stage. With support from EMD UK and the Greater London Authority as well as involvement from the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association (WDSA) UK, 2017 also brought positive developments to the competition and saw inclusive school groups performing alongside mainstream groups. With the great success of this new element, the competition will continue to integrate inclusivity and enable even more young people the chance to showcase their talent.

Emily Whitaker, Events Manager at London Youth Games said; “We pride ourselves in bringing a wide range of sporting opportunities to young people across all London boroughs. We were extremely pleased that we were able to include inclusive school groups in the competition this year, and were so delighted to see young people of all abilities and backgrounds come together and appreciate each other’s dancing efforts. It truly was one inspiring day and we look forward to seeing what next year brings”

Given the brief of creating an original dance piece with music of their choice, secondary school children from Key Stages 3 and 4 brought a variety of different styles and concepts to the arena. The three judges; Lena Dee, Turbo and Jennie Jethwani, had a tough job deciding this year’s champions, but after much deliberation, crowned Barnet’s Archer Academy a double gold for their KS3 performance of contemporary dance piece ‘Catch the Light’ and KS4 performance of another contemporary dance piece titled ‘Where Are We’. Well-deserved silver and bronze medals were awarded to Haringey’s St Thomas More Catholic School and Kingston’s Tiffin Boy’s School in the KS3 competition, and Merton’s Raynes Park High School and Brent’s Preston Manor in the KS4 competition. The Special Educational Needs (SEN) groups Waverly School and Waterside Primary School were both given certificates and medals of achievement from Autism UK ambassador and The People’s Strictly competitor, Anna Kennedy OBE. All groups were praised for the very high level of performances and everyone involved left feeling empowered and proud of what they achieved.

With the vision of a healthier nation through exercise, EMD UK were thrilled to be involved in the event for a third consecutive year.

Ross Perriam, CEO at EMD UK said; “This year’s event was the most magical yet. It was so inspiring to see hundreds of young dancers showcase their talent and passion for dance. At EMD UK, we endeavour to create, support and develop opportunities to enjoy group exercise and see the London Youth Games as a key way in enabling the nation to become more active. We’re very excited to see what the future brings for this great initiative”.

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For more information please contact Emily Bunton at EMD UK on 01403 266000 or email emily@emduk.org or alternatively contact Emily Whitaker at London Youth Games on emily@londonyouthgames.org.